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Curriculum Based Assessment (CBA) provides a structured way to see how well a child performs on the materials the teacher is assigning the class. The assumption is that if we want to know whether children are progressing in reading and writing, then we should observe (or count) their behavior as the read and write in school, and we should collect this data as often as feasible so that we quickly know whether a child is making progress or falling behind. Witt, J. C., Elliot, S. N., Daly III, E. J., Gresham, F. M., & Kramer, J. J. (1998). Assessment of at-risk and special needs children. (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

A CBA typically informs classroom instruction and guides the teacher to change the instructional and intervention strategy for appropriate differentiation. Examples might include: Probes using brief reading passages: AIMSweb probes, MAP oral reading assessment, short spelling lists, samples of math items from the curriculum, measures of LLI, etc.

Portfolios A purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student's efforts, progress, and achievements in toward mastery of the curriculum that shows change and growth over a period of time. It should represent a collection of students' best work or best efforts, student-selected samples of work experiences related to outcomes being assessed, and documents according growth and development toward mastering identified outcomes. Paulson, F.L. Paulson, P.R. and Meyer, CA. (1991, February). "What Makes a Portfolio a Portfolio?" Educational Leadership, pp. 60-63.

Examples might include: academic growth binders that may include worksheets, tests, comic strips, IEP goals, IEP at a glance, reflections, reward systems, etc.

Observations/Anecdotal Records Real time, informal assessment of student learning in the classroom. It is a direct method of data collection. It has a beginning and ending time. It is often filled out on a specific form/checklist/data collection protocol. In all cases, there should be written documentation of what was observed (and NOT the interpretation of what was observed). An observer should have a sense of purpose and a question or two that she/he is looking to answer in the observations.

Anecdotal records are the written observations – word for word, action for action – of exactly what a child is doing and saying. It is like a transcript on an event, series of events or events throughout the day. These are similar to an observation but have more description. Behavior always occurs in a context, and observing in that context is critical for defining and understanding the behavior.  Observations may also help to identify the antecedents (what happens before the target behavior) and consequences (what happens after the target behavior) so that meaningful behavioral interventions can be developed.  The data we collect during systematic classroom observations is used as a baseline, and/or present level of performance for an IEP.  We might also use the data to evaluate whether or not an intervention is working. 

Observation is one method for collecting data for an FBA in order to answer the questions “what function is the behavior serving for the student?” or “what is the student trying to communicate to us through the behavior?” Thus, collecting data related to teacher and/or peer responses to the target student behavior is also important because that attention may be reinforcing the inappropriate behavior. 

Short-Cycle Assessments are tests given several times over the course of the school year with the intention of preparing students for the End of the year targets. Almost all states give a test designed to assess students on what they have learned based on the State’s content standards. These tests can take many different formats including written responses, multiple-choice, or a demonstration of learning. A short cycle assessment should measure student’s ability compared to a specific set of skills. Examples might include: Fundations chapter tests, MAP short cycle mastery tests, CAP

Performance Assessments, also known as alternative or authentic assessment, is a form of testing that requires students to perform/demonstrate a task or skill rather than using checklists, multiple choice response, short answers or essays. You need to structure the way of scoring the assessment beforehand (i.e., a rubric might be used in conjunction with a performance assessment). Examples: comic strips, audio-visual display of learning, charts, oral presentations, etc.

Checklists usually offer a yes/no format in relation to student demonstration of specific criteria. This is similar to a light switch; the light is either on or off. The checklist names specific skills or sub-skills and the evaluator indicates whether the child is able to perform those skills/subskills on a particular date. Adapted from: learnalberta.ca October, 2008

Running Records allow you to assess a student's reading performance as she/he reads from a grade level passage or book. It is short, quick, valid and reliable benchmark assessment of a student’s oral reading. Examiner marks the oral reading errors student makes like omission, substitution, repetition, etc. It can be done frequently and quickly. It is an individually conducted formative assessment which is ongoing and curriculum based. Examples include: LLI running records, QRI, ARI, etc…

Work Samples A variety of work completed by a student may be chosen from what would best show the level of skill that student can display. Examples might include: classroom work products and homework completed by a student independently that helps gauge the child’s skill level and gaps. It allows the teacher to look at pattern of errors a student makes. Teachers can be creative and tap into student’s interest to address performance assessment.

Inventories A list of skills or behaviors used to measure progress toward the mastery of a goal.

Rubrics A scoring rubric includes 1) one or more dimensions/criteria on which performance is rated, 2) definitions or descriptors that clarify how the attribute is measured, and 3) a rating scale for each dimension. Adapted From: Herman, J.L., Aschbachler, P.R. and Winters, L. A Practical guide to Alternative Assessment. Alexadria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1992)

Behavioral Recording A method of evaluating a student's behavior that provides you with a very precise picture of its regularity or severity. The teacher or aide observes the student directly and collects data on how long or how often a certain behavior occurs. Using this method, you can compare the degree of occurrence of the behavior with the degree to which it is exhibited by other students.  This method can be used to obtain an accurate perception of whether the student's behavior is improving over time.  There are three basic types of behavioral recordings that are found in the classroom: frequency recording, duration recording, and interval recording (although many other variations are sometimes used for certain purposes).  The recording procedure that you choose will depend on the kind of behavior that is demonstrated and the type of information that would be most beneficial to you.

~Frequency recording is a simple counting of how many times a behavior occurs during a designated period of time. Those designated periods might be a minute, an hour, a day, or a week.  It is most useful with behaviors that are discrete and short in duration (e.g., number of curse words, number of short talk-outs without raising hand), or are things that the student has created (e.g., number of correct math problems, number of homework assignments submitted).  There is a second type of frequency recording in which you count the number of items (e.g., homework assignments, math problems, adjective in an essay) that a student has produced.  It is known as "permanent product recording". (Although the product isn't really permanent...especially when the student claims that the dog ate his homework.)

~Duration recording monitors the percent of time that a behavior occurs during the observation period, or it can be used to calculate the average time of display for the number of times that the student showed the behavior.   To calculate the percentage, the sum of the times (duration) that the behavior occurred is divided by the total observation time (For example, if the behavior was displayed for a total of 10 minutes during your 30 minute observation of the student, the behavior was happening 33% of the time).  This type of recording is used for behaviors that last for more than a few seconds and/or for varying lengths of time (e.g., paying attention, tapping a pencil, in-seat behavior).

~Interval recording is a shortcut procedure for estimating the duration of a behavior.  In this method, the teacher periodically looks at the student at predetermined (NOT spontaneously selected) intervals and records whether the behavior is occurring.  There are three types of interval recording.  In whole interval time sampling, you observe the student for a few seconds at designated intervals and notice whether the behavior occurs for the whole interval that you are looking for it (mark "yes" or "no" as to whether this behavior occurred for the whole time that you were watching).  In partial interval recording, you mark whether the behavior occurred at least once during the short observation interval.  In momentary time sampling, you look up immediately at pre-designated points and notice whether the behavior is occurring at that precise moment.  In all three types, the teacher then figures the percent of observations that the behavior occurred.  Interval recording is used for the same behaviors as duration recording, but this procedure takes less time and effort, and does not require that the student be observed continually.

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