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

The first step is beginning with the end in mind – identifying the learning destination or what you want your students to know, understand, and be able to do or articulate in a particular subject or discipline.

This means deconstructing the curricular outcomes or standards into groups of ‘big ideas’ that make sense for you and your learners. Once all the ideas for both process and content standards or outcomes are noted, you can sort these ideas into groups of similar or connected ideas. Or, you might sort them onto a timeline of what makes sense to teach during the school year.

Once the groupings have been made, it is time to consider how to communicate the ‘big ideas’ in summary statements and then to consider how you might best express each statement in learner-friendly language ready to share with students and their parents.

To summarize, here are the three steps:

  1. Deconstruct curriculum standards or outcomes – everything that addresses what students are to know, understand, and be able to do or to articulate.
  2. Group the ideas into categories that make sense to you. They might be grouped into units of study or into a school-year timeline.
  3. Express the categories as simple, student-friendly statements, ready to share with students and parents.

This simple yet powerful practice is supported by both classroom practice and research (Black and Wiliam,1998). Here are a few examples of learning destinations from mathematics, writing, and science, written in language students and their parents are likely to understand.

As you review the samples below notice how they are deliberately written so as to assist learners to think about what they need to learn: “I can write in my journal” or “I make detailed, thoughtful observations…” This process is described in detail in Chapter Three of Making Classroom Assessment Work, 3rd Edition (Davies, 2011).

Connect2LearningMath Sample


In the next blog we will focus on preparing to evaluate by considering evidence of learning that will show us, as well as our students and their parents or guardians, that students have learned what we intended for them to learn. Just click on the first link below. If you’d like to look at all the posts in the series, click on links 2, 3 or 4.

  1. How to ensure you evaluate what you value
  2. A world of evidence, waiting for you
  3. Inspiring students to collect their own evidence
  4. Are your students happily working harder than you are? 


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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