Notes From The Coach

Common Assessment? Say What?

What is a the definition of a Common Assessment?

“[Common assessments are] not standardized tests, but teacher-created, teacher-owned assessments that are collaboratively scored and that provide immediate feedback to students and teachers.” —Douglas Reeves, CEO and founder, The Leadership and Learning Center

Definition cont...

“An assessment typically created collaboratively by a team of teachers responsible for the same grade level or course. Common formative assessments are frequently administered throughout the year to identify (1) individual students who need additional time and support for learning, (2) the teaching strategies most effective in helping students acquire the intended knowledge and skills, (3) program concerns – areas in which students generally are having difficulty achieving the intended standard – and (4) improvement goals for individual teachers and the team.” – —DuFour, DuFour, Eaker & Many (2008) Learning by Doing, p 214
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Collaborative Assessment Design Guidelines

There are many different ways teams go about designing common assessments, but there are some given commonalities regarding each of the following protocols. Each requires the following be determined in advance of the actual assessment construction:



  • Teams must clearly identify the learning targets for the assessment. If it is an assessment that will lead to intervention or enrichment work, then it is advised to use no more than 1– 5 learning targets for that assessment. Each target requires enough of a sampling to assure understanding (generally 5 – 10 questions per target area).
  • Teams must select the appropriate assessment method to match the target expectations and determine if supporting materials (checklists, rubrics, etc.) will need to accommodate the assessment.
  • Teams must identify their criteria or framework for “rigor” so that questions will be reviewed with a consistent lens for quality.
  • Teams must identify or develop their protocol for assessment review and acceptance.
  • There should be no surprises at the conclusion of the collaborative work.

Attaching a grade to a common assessment, makes it more summative than formative.

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Students do not have to know it is an assessment!

What can a common assessment look like?

  1. Game
  2. Exit Ticket
  3. Poll
  4. Survey
  5. Anticipation guide
  6. Short Answer
  7. Writing Sample
  8. Daily Essential Question
  9. Group Activity
  10. Learning logs
  11. Summaries
  12. Thinking Maps
  13. Quiz
  14. Various Checkpoints During A Project


Any student performance task that Professional Learning Communities develop, which include the same criteria, rigor and "protocol for assessment review and acceptance" that are tied to standards-based outcomes.

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