Each new school year is a time of hope – this year will be the best year ever! Taking the time to create an assessment plan will help you make this hope a reality. This blog post is part three in a series of five designed to take you through the process of building an assessment plan for the beginning of the year.

  1. Step One – Beginning with the end in mind.
  2. Step Two – Preparing to evaluate by considering evidence of learning
  3. Step Three – Planning to collect baseline evidence of learning (this post)
  4. Step Four – Planning to involve students in the collection of evidence
  5. Step Five – Planning to have students working harder than you are 

In the previous two posts, we discussed the first two steps: what students need to learn and the evidence of learning needed to make an informed professional judgment (evaluation). Now we are ready for step three: preparing to collect baseline evidence of learning.

There are two key benefits to collecting important pieces of baseline evidence early in the term:

  1. Teachers get the information they need to create or ‘tweak’ instructional plans to
    better meet student needs.
  2. Teachers get the first layer of ‘proof’ needed to later help students and their parents
    appreciate how much has been learned.

What kind of baseline evidence do teachers collect? Consider the kinds of evidence students need to provide to show proof of learning. When it comes to classroom assessment, anything a student does, says, or creates is potential evidence of learning.

When teachers collect evidence of learning from multiple sources over time in relation to the learning outcomes/standards, they are more likely to make informed professional judgments that are reliable and valid. Teachers in different subjects, different classes, and different levels or grades collect different samples. Consider these examples of baseline samples teachers collected in various contexts:


Think about the kind of evidence your students will need to produce in order that you can evaluate the learning at the end of the term. What would you have students create, do, and articulate in order to provide evidence of where they are at this point in time while it is still early days in the term?

Make a plan to collect a few key pieces – not too many! You just need enough to inform your general understanding of what students know, can do, and can articulate. And later, students (and their parents) will need just enough to provide a powerful “lightbulb” moment when they see visual and concrete evidence of their growth and improvement over time and they compare their current evidence of learning to the baseline collected at the beginning of the year.

Notice how, with the baseline samples described above, teachers can adjust their instruction based on the students in front of them this year. In addition, students now have the record of a first attempt – a baseline sample – that they will be able to use to help show themselves, their teachers, and others the progress they have made as they have learned during the term.

The next step in this process is to plan how you are going to involve students in collecting evidence of learning.

Anne Davies, Sandra Herbst, and Brenda Augusta

Anne Davies, Sandra Herbst, and Brenda Augusta

Anne Davies, Sandra Herbst, and Brenda Augusta are educators, consultants, authors, and presenters who are highly sought after, both locally and globally. Their energy, passion, and expertise have helped teachers, leaders, schools, and systems to move forward with competence and confidence. Learn more about the team here...


Like most education professionals, we have a burning desire to make a difference in the lives of learners. We started as teachers and leaders, but saw the potential to drive greater transformation by creating and sharing methodologies with other educators.

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