Using Performance Assessments in Social Studies

What comes to mind when you hear the word assessment? More importantly, what comes to mind when your students hear the word? Do you and your students think of assessment as a hammer ready to come down on your classroom with the force of all the ways students did NOT meet expectations? Perhaps assessment is seen as an autopsy of learning, the end of the learning process that marks the close of one chapter, a box to be checked off? What if we could change the narrative around assessment

The Pedagogy Companion of the Educating for American Democracy (EAD) Roadmap explains the power of assessment as a tool for growth that is a “flashlight” that shines light on the learning process. As the Pedagogy Companion explains:

EAD teachers honor their commitment to excellence for all students and their investment in their own growth as educators by analyzing information about student learning and refining instruction from assessment. Both teachers and students should reflect not only on what individual students have learned but also on how their classroom and school is doing in providing equitable learning opportunities and outcomes. This type of rich, multi sided assessment not only measures learning, but also strengthens the culture of rigor, reflection, and support in the classroom community. Students should also not only understand what they were able to learn but also how they learn the best, which builds metacognition, an awareness of how they learn and what interests and motivates them.
EAD Pedagogy Companion, p. 13

This week, the Illinois Civics Hub shared resources developed in collaboration with Beth Ratway from the American Institutes of Research around using performance assessments in social studies to ENHANCE the learning process. This work complements our previous two webinars about using essential questions in curriculum design and building inquiry lessons to equip students to “do social studies.” This week’s webinar:

  • Defined performance assessments
  • Analyzed the components of high-quality performance assessments
  • Demonstrated how to deconstruct standards to design performance assessments
  • Shared resources for educators to use to create performance assessments

If you missed the webinar, you can access a recording for your own #PoolsidePD.

The Illinois Civics Hub is taking next week off to enjoy a wee bit of summer.  We continue exploring the topic of assessment in two weeks with a webinar on Building Better Rubrics for Student Feedback on July 13, followed by Making Thinking Visible for formative assessment on July 20, 2021. Each session begins at 9:30 a.m. CT. Educators who register can join live to interact with participants, or watch a recording. The webinars are free, and Illinois educators can elect to earn PD credits for attending the webinar and completing a brief, post-webinar application activity.

A description for each webinar and information to register for professional development credits through the DuPage Regional Office of Education is available on the Illinois Civics Hub Professional Development Calendar.