Building a System of Assessment in a School System to Promote Equity and Epistemic Justice (2018)

Efforts to imagine new possibilities for principled ways to align assessment with sociocognitive foundations of learning in social interaction and with instruction are limited by the absence of credible use cases that show how such systems can be developed and maintained within complex educational systems such as large urban school districts. Such a use case can be found within evolving joint work of a research-practice partnership between a university and a large urban school district. The system we are building together focuses on the goals of informing and supporting the redistribution of educational opportunities in science classrooms (equity) and on supporting and repairing students’ perceptions of themselves as having agency as a knower and reasoner in their science classrooms and the community (epistemic justice). In this chapter, we describe different components and practices that work together to accomplish these aims: a curriculum with embedded assessments that allows students to figure out rather than be told core ideas; regularly administered exit tickets that elicit students’ experience of the classroom; and an instructional guidance system that is focused on iterative refinement of teacher learning opportunities to support student agency. We present evidence of teacher perceptions and uptake of these components and practices, to develop an account of what this particular case can and cannot tell us about the possibilities for designing assessment systems in a district that are thoroughly grounded in contemporary theories of teaching and learning.

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