Samantha Warburton, one of ESE’s Ed Eval project leaders, brought an encouraging and sensible message about District-Determined Measures of Student Growth (DDMs) to a crowd of educators at Holyoke High last week (July11).
Districts ought to start the process, she said, by asking teachers what will be most useful to them to measure. Teachers, she added, already assess their students in myriad ways. The next step is to find ways to measure those skills and concepts that are useful to teachers. Only after these steps have been achieved do districts need to start worrying about validity and reliability. If districts are not happy with a DDM after piloting it, they are free to jettison that assessment and move on to a different assessment for year two.
Ms. Warburton also spoke about the range of assessment options that may be piloted at this early stage of implementation. Districts may use shorter-term tests such as common formative assessments that teacher teams have already created. Portfolios of student work in writing, math, and the arts can be piloted as DDMs as well.
Her message was an encouraging reminder that DDMs need not be completely valid or reliable this first time through; rather, it is a time to experiment with how these assessments can best meet teacher needs.