When our district started its journey into competency-based training (CBE), one of many vital early steps was the publication of our Profile of a Graduate (PoG) in 2017.  The Profile was essential in growing our present Strategic Management Plan for 2018-2022, the place Customized Studying is the highest strand.  “Embedded Efficiency Assessments” — demonstrated functions of scholar information deliberately timed at key factors of a scholar’s studying path — is a characteristic talked about all through that strand, and one in all our frequent examples of such an evaluation is scholar exhibitions: a culminating celebratory occasion the place they will “present what they know,” usually with the attendance of fogeys and neighborhood members as an viewers.

From a sure perspective, scholar exhibitions will not be new.  Certainly, if the phrase conjures up photos of a junior excessive science truthful with trifold presentation boards, do-it-yourself dioramas and photo voltaic system mobiles, or maybe cute elementary college students dressed up as well-known individuals for a residing wax museum, you’d be forgiven. However there’s a distinction when defining exhibitions within the context of CBE or as a top quality efficiency evaluation.  Options of such an exhibition would come with the educational intentionality in how they’re designed and assigned by lecturers, the company of the scholars behind them, and the depth of the mastery of studying the exhibition can show.  Moreover, in case your goals from scholar exhibitions embody college students producing wealthy artifacts of studying and having some follow runs main as much as a rigorous Protection of Studying efficiency summative evaluation — extra on each of those later — it’s crucial that college students exhibit and exhibit usually.  

For an extra exploration and clarification of the ability of scholar exhibitions, watch this brief video (2:14) from Excessive Tech Excessive:

Our district was not naive about what it could take to attain these richer and deeper exhibition experiences.  Academics wanted to study methods and see good fashions for student-centered studying; college students couldn’t grow to be empowered, assured, and self-directed in a single day.   Nevertheless, one of many wisest strikes from our management was to encourage our lecturers, and by extension college students, to simply strive.   We knew that a few of our earliest exhibitions could be tough and would not look a lot completely different than these quaint science expos with the trifold presentation boards, however we needed to begin someplace, so we may baseline, study, and enhance.  Whereas we’re nonetheless (and will all the time be!) “changing into” and bettering, we will use the mixing of our Profile of a Graduate for instance of how exhibitions have deepened and gotten higher.  At first, college students might have been requested to mirror on a Profile competency or two on the very finish of the method, if in any respect, maybe as an afterthought (“Mirror on which PoG competency you suppose this exhibition finest exemplifies”).  However then we developed one-point rubrics to measure whether or not the scholar met the competency . . . lecturers started growing exhibitions with an intentional deal with a PoG competency made clear to the scholar from the beginning . . . and we’re within the technique of launching 4 level mastery scales on the PoG competencies to raised assess the scholar’s “efficiency.”

The launch of the Profile of a Graduate 5 years in the past actually gave us a brand new “why” for scholar exhibitions and a option to deepen and higher measure scholar studying. However wanting again and searching ahead, what if we had a instrument or a extra insightful lens to take a look at efficiency evaluation extra successfully?  

That is the place a superb guide enters stage left: Deeper Competency-Based mostly Studying: Making Equitable, Scholar-Centered, Sustainable Shifts by Karin Hess, Rose Colby, and Daniel Joseph (Corwin, 2020).  I am midway by studying it as an anchor textual content for my chosen SCPS PD strand this yr, and in full disclosure (and to my delight), Rose Colby additionally joins Shelby County periodically to nearly lead workshop classes on CBE for myself and different CBE strand learners.**   Deeper Competency-Based mostly Studying is dense in the perfect sense of the time period, filled with CBE shift methods, rubrics, and metrics to measure the place you might be in competency-based training and the place you need to be.

Of their chapter “Making Shifts in Educating and Studying Buildings,” the authors share a desk of standards sorts to plan efficiency assessments (Desk 3.6, web page 94).  The criterion sorts, instance questions usually answered by every kind, and the Depth of Data (DOK) one would often anticipate for every kind, are as follows:

  • Course of: “Will the scholar comply with explicit processes (e.g. procedures for a science investigation; knowledge assortment; validating credibility of sources)?” [DOK 2]
  • Type: “Are there codecs or guidelines to be utilized (e.g. appropriate quotation format, set up elements of lab report; use digicam pictures/visuals; edit for grammar and utilization)?” [DOK 1]
  • Accuracy of Content material: “Checklist important domain-specific phrases, calculations, ideas, or rules to be utilized.” [DOK 1 or 2]
  • Development of New Data: “How will the scholar transcend the correct answer and proper processes to achieve new insights and lift new questions? Are there any private success expertise that may even be employed?” [DOK 3 or 4]
  • Influence:  “How will the ultimate product obtain its meant function (e.g. resolve a posh downside; persuade the viewers; synthesize data to create a brand new product/efficiency)?” [DOK 3 or 4]

The authors level out that “[a]ll rubric standards don’t have to be included for each summative evaluation, however they need to [all] be thought of through the design part,” with a selected emphasis on Development of New Data and Influence for efficiency assessments which might be to actually assess deeper studying (94).  Moreover, these standards are a superb first step for both designing a brand new efficiency evaluation or analyzing an present one. Extra steps embody contemplating an genuine context for software, figuring out a correct format for such an illustration, figuring out how a lot college students can have voice and selection within the course of or product, and final however not least, figuring out and aligning success standards to the duty (94-95).

All of this brings us again to scholar exhibitions.  Whilst many exhibition examples in our district usually had a “good” high quality to them, I struggled to articulate suggestions in what may make them “nice.”  One factor I noticed early on was the necessity to current an authentic concept, quite than only a regurgitation of what others have stated or finished, irrespective of how properly it’s packaged or communicated.  Put one other method once I was discussing project-based studying in a earlier weblog entry: “It isn’t transformative studying if the top consequence…is merely a properly introduced aggregation of researched bullet factors as a substitute of a brand new concept or creation that exhibits actual reflection and progress of scholar pondering.”  (Be aware additionally that the phrase selection of the criterion Influence, in addition to its definition, can strongly recommend how a properly designed PBL can finish in a excessive DOK efficiency evaluation that “impacts” the neighborhood outdoors of the 4 partitions of a college.)

It was this insightful standards from Deeper Competency-Based mostly Studying that improved how I may consider and provides suggestions on efficiency evaluation.   Firstly, because the authors level out, there’s nothing inherently unsuitable with a efficiency evaluation that solely stays on the stage of Course of, Type, and/or Accuracy of Content material (and by extension, at DOK 1 or 2).  I’ll label these as Preliminary efficiency assessments. Relying on the intentionality of the lesson/unit design, this would possibly very properly be instructionally sound — for instance, maybe the competency is just being launched and full mastery wouldn’t be anticipated.  The difficulty is when a trainer both stays on the Preliminary stage for all such assessments for the whole course, or worse, misinterprets a efficiency evaluation finest designed just for these decrease ranges as an illustration of mastery.   For a efficiency evaluation to actually apply a scholar’s information with depth, the scholar ought to “acquire new insights,” “increase new questions,” “make use of private expertise” (like those from our Profile of a Graduate!), “resolve a posh downside,” “persuade an viewers,” and/or “synthesize data to create a brand new product or efficiency.”  I might label these Development of New Data and Influence efficiency assessments Perfect, particularly if a scholar’s mastery of studying (with a process at DOK of three or 4) is your aim.

This idea of Preliminary and Perfect will be additional utilized to different semantic facets of instructing and evaluation, as we transition from the standard to the transformational.  For instance, an Preliminary “folder” would possibly comprise artifacts chosen by the scholar, however the wording exhibits a restricted aim; it could be extra involved with being a container of scholar work, quite than with the depth of the work contained, and an emphasis on an finish product quite than an ongoing course of.  An Perfect “portfolio,” however, can recommend a residing assortment ever altering, increasing, and bettering over time; a perpetual artifact curation that ought to spur a scholar on to repeatedly mirror on their progress academically and personally.   Whereas this technique of a portfolio might ultimately culminate in a Protection of Studying, a kind of efficiency evaluation the place the scholar attracts on their physique of labor to current as proof of mastery (say, as soon as a scholar is able to full their senior yr), the day of the protection the place a scholar stands in entrance of an viewers ought to “Ideally” not overshadow the months and years main as much as the occasion.  Conversely, if the day of protection is a efficiency evaluation that consists solely of a scholar compliantly marching by a showcase of previous work —  within the parlance of the Course of/Type/Accuracy of Content material standards, the scholar is merely following a course of, making use of formulation and guidelines, or itemizing definitions  —  this “Preliminary” form of efficiency may silently get replaced by a single bulleted slide or a one web page desk of contents and never skip a beat.

From Preliminary to Perfect (whether or not or not it’s exhibitions particularly or efficiency assessments generally) and from good to nice is not only an easy journey however a non-linear studying path that will circle again after which flip ahead once more over time.  The key, as it’s with many issues in competency-based studying, is to do the journey with as a lot intentionality, reflection and metacognition as doable, with the aspiration to all the time go deeper. 

** For additional studying on Shelby County’s skilled growth personalised studying plan led by our Employees Developer Tracy Huelsman, please learn Eliot Levine’s CompetencyWorks 11/4/21 weblog entry profiling her work.