Transforming Instruction

Co-constructing criteria with students is one of the most powerful facets of assessment for learning. By engaging them in the process of defining the learning goal and what success looks like, teachers are often amazed at how much MORE learning happens. Students begin to speak the language of assessment and take ownership of their own learning journey.

Educators of students with Special Needs are often experts at this process. They are used to working as a team with other professionals to identify the challenges of individual students and are very clear about each one’s specific learning targets. Their systems of keeping track of evidence of learning for these students are typically based on more qualitative data (using multiple sources over time) rather than relying on numerical data.

Many teachers model the language of assessment for their students with Special Needs by involving them in co-creating criteria to show what the learning will look like for each of them. Being able to communicate about what they have learned helps students become more confident and capable of learning on their own.

A group of educators in Ohio have seen such outstanding results from co-constructing criteria with their students (elementary, middle, and high school) that they offered to share their stories with us. Check them out in the article below, “Vignettes of Co-Constructing Criteria”.

“A guiding question for me is ‘What qualities and skills do I, as an educator, want our students to have?’… Mostly, I want them to have a belief in themselves that they are capable of great things.”
~ Philip Divinsky

Phil Divinsky teaches high school students with Special Needs. His chapter, *Creating the Classroom Culture* describes his strategies for developing students’ communication skills so they get to know their peers and work together, sharing specific feedback for learning. Read more in Quality Assessment in High Schools: Accounts From Teachers.