Pijanowski, L. (2008). Striking a balance: Georgia district adds assessments and transforms classroom practice. Journal of Staff Development, 29(4), 43-46.
In this article, the author describes a district in Georgia that has demonstrated increased academic success because of a new focus on benchmark assessments and collaborative discussions about assessment. The district implemented a professional learning program, Focused Choice, which provided all district staff with six early release days and two staff development days to learn about standards-based classrooms. The author reports that these professional development experiences led to changes in how assessment was used by teachers. The article includes a table of five assessment measures (i.e., standardized assessment, benchmark assessment, common assessment, classroom assessment, and progress monitoring) and describes the purpose of each, who designs it, and how each is used to support instruction. The author also describes how school personnel were involved in three levels of reflection and dialogue (i.e., individual teacher reflection, grade-level conversation, school-wide dialogue about results) to enhance their ability to understand data and use their findings to improve classroom instruction and student performance. The article concludes with lessons learned from implementation of the benchmark assessments as part of the balanced assessment program.
Benchmark Assessment, Culture of Collaboration, Professional Development