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Designing for Deeper Learning: How to Develop Performance Tasks for the Common Core

Monday, September 8, 2014
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The Course

Given their emphasis on complex and sophisticated disciplinary skills and understandings, the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards require ways of assessing that go beyond routine multiple-choice tests. Whether students are learning to select, use, and explain evidence to support a claim or to analyze data to evaluate a hypothesis, tests that require that students only bubble in a scantron are inadequate to measure (or support) students’ learning and growth. Performance assessments are more suited to this task. Performance-based tasks require that students create and produce rather than recall and regurgitate. While performance assessments vary along multiple dimensions, including duration and focus, they all demand that students use and apply critical skills and knowledge to demonstrate understanding.

This nine-week course will focus on building educators’ capacity to use, develop, and implement curriculum-embedded performance assessments that fit local contexts. Course activities include evaluating sample performance tasks and developing and implementing a performance task that is aligned with a specific curricular unit and performance outcomes. We will use a learning-centered approach where assessments are not only about measuring learning, but are also events for learning.

This MOOC is designed for grade 6-12 teachers working in the core disciplines of mathematics, language arts, history/social studies, and science. It is recommended that participants currently teach or have access to a classroom for which they can design a performance assessment and then implement that assessment. Participants will work collaboratively with other educators in their discipline to accomplish course learning goals and assignments.

The four main objectives of this course are for participants to:

  • Understand and identify features of high quality performance assessments;
  • Develop a grade-level, course-specific, practical, performance task that is aligned with (and embedded within) a curricular unit of study;
  • Begin to use data from performance tasks to tailor and improve instruction and curriculum;
  • Contribute to building an online community of educators focused on using performance-based assessments to identify and develop students’ abilities.

This nine-week course will include video presentations, required readings, and homework activities. For each of the eight core sessions, students can expect to spend a total of 2-4 hours weekly watching videos, reading, completing assignments, and collaborating with peers.  The ninth week will allow students to complete and submit their final project.

We encourage, and will support collaborative teams of educators in the course. Students can join the class with an existing team, or will create and join teams once the class has started.

Upon successful completion of the required assignments, students will earn a "Statement of Accomplishment" from NovoEd.


Raymond L. Pecheone

Professor of Practice at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University and Executive Director of the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE)

Raymond Pecheone is Professor of Practice at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University and Executive Director of the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE). SCALE focuses on the development of innovative performance assessments for students, teachers, and administrators at the school, district and state levels. Over the course of his career, Dr. Pecheone has been a leader in high stakes educational reform through assessment, research and policy work. Currently, Dr. Pecheone and SCALE are developing the performance assessment specifications and tasks for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) national assessment system that will be used by up to 22 states.

Daisy Martin

Director of History/Social Studies Performance Assessment at SCALE

Daisy Martin is Director of History/Social Studies Performance Assessment at SCALE. Her professional work focuses on the teaching and learning of historical thinking and literacy. She has co-created several digital projects that make research-based, high quality teaching resources freely available, and has worked with teachers nationwide on designing and using curricula and performance-based assessments. Daisy’s current projects include researching challenges and successes faced by educators in implementing coherent performance assessment systems, and working with history teachers in multiple states to design, implement, and learn from common units of study. A former history and civics teacher, Daisy holds a doctorate from Stanford University and a BA in history/philosophy from the University of Michigan.

Ruth Chung Wei

Director of Assessment Research and Development at SCALE

Ruth Chung Wei is currently Director of Assessment Research and Development at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE), where she leads the design and research on performance-based assessments used in K-12 schools and in teacher education programs. Her current research is focused on the potential of performance assessments to serve as measures of student learning and growth, and the effectiveness of tools and protocols for improving the quality of teacher-designed performance assessments. A former secondary school teacher in the New York City public schools, Ruth Chung Wei completed her doctorate in education at Stanford University.


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