Vision & Principles of CPS Assessment

Vision & Principles of Cambridge Public Schools Assessment System & Practices1

Assessment is the process of gathering evidence of student understanding to inform instructional decisions. Assessments support the work of effective educators in continually observing, probing, investigating, analyzing and responding to their students' thinking and performance. The most instructionally powerful assessments are daily formative assessments aligned to instructional objectives. At times, common district and state assessments are used to determine how all students are performing on cumulative subject matter and how student subgroups are progressing relative to all students, as well as to provide information about curricular gaps and professional learning needs.

To achieve this vision of assessment, CPS educators will engage with assessments that collectively:
  • Provide relevant, purposeful, timely, and specific information about students’ performance and progress to educators, students, and families;
  • Align with standards;
  • Deepen students’ metacognitive understanding of their own learning;
  • Support rigorous, joyful, and culturally responsive teaching practices and classroom environments​;
  • Have clear implications for differentiation, re-teaching, support and extension; and
  • Are supported with professional learning and instructional/peer coaching.
The Cambridge Public Schools seeks to develop a balanced assessment system that:
  • Is holistic, including various ways for students to demonstrate their learning;
  • Utilizes multiple data points in evaluating student learning and making educational decisions;
  • Illuminates achievement gaps and supports educators’ commitment to eradicating those gaps;
  • Involves classroom-level educators in design, implementation, and analysis;
  • Provides for accommodations for students with IEPs/504s or identified as English Language Learners;
  • Avoids an over-­reliance on summative tests; and
  • Strengthens a professional culture of continual learning and growth in a safe environment.
The foundation of a balanced assessment system is assessment literacy, ensuring that different “users” of assessment - students, teachers, families, administrators, School Committee - have the information they need to make informed decisions based on the evidence of student understanding. No single measure can answer each user's questions and each user must have an understanding of the assessment’s purpose, the information it can provide, the conclusions that can be drawn, and the possible next steps to which the information can point.

1 Sources for this document include CEA’s Core Values - Draft - Revised Draft Based on Educator Forum Feedback 3/26/16; Stiggins’ The Perfect Assessment System; Chenoweth’s Schools that Succeed: How Educators Marshall the Power of Systems for Improvement; Lesaux & Marietta’s Making Assessments Matter; documents from Research for Better Teaching; and Perie et al.’s The Role of Interim Assessments in a Comprehensive Assessment System.
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