Interims, Assessment & Feedback

With Friday’s distribution of Interim Reports, we hit the halfway mark of the second quarter.  If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to have your students stop and reflect on their progress, either in your class or with a specific unit or skill.  This is a great time to revisit goals and inspire persistence – heading into the holidays is no time to slack (especially for seniors)!

The most recent SAT practice data is posted on the shared drive in the SAT SLOs folder.  The spreadsheet is titled, “Updated Nov Practice SAT File 2015-16.”  For some tips on how to make this and other assessment data meaningful to your students, check out this article summary from Educational Leadership:

Two Different Approaches to Using Interim Assessment Data

(Originally titled “Are We Motivating Students with Data?”)

In this article in Educational Leadership, Caitlin Farrell (University of Colorado), Julie Marsh (University of Southern California), and Melanie Bertrand (Arizona State University) compare the way two middle-school ELA teachers share assessment data with their students:

  • Performance orientation – Right after each district benchmark assessment, Mrs. Landen posts her seventh graders’ results on a data wall and encourages students to look at the scores. She believes that getting students to see how they’re doing compared to peers will motivate them to work harder and take the tests more seriously. Mrs. Landen also gives prizes and parties to students who move up to certain proficiency benchmarks. She doesn’t think it’s necessary to explain the details of test scores or give much specific guidance on how to improve performance.
  • Mastery orientation – Ms. Santos has her eighth-graders look over their benchmark test answer sheets and analyze which standards they mastered and which items caused problems. She then works with small groups of students, giving specific feedback on areas where they need help, repeating the cycle after each benchmark assessment. Individual students see only their own scores, and she has them set goals and measure progress with respect to standards, conveying her belief that students can and will improve their performance through effective effort.

About two-thirds of teachers fit the performance orientation profile and one-third the mastery orientation, say Farrell, Marsh, and Bertrand. These differences may stem from individual teachers’ pedagogical beliefs, but quite often they come from district policies that encourage or discourage the idea that student achievement will improve with public comparison of scores, class-to-class and school-to-school competition, and extrinsic rewards.

There’s no question about which approach is better for children’s achievement, say the authors. A mastery orientation fosters self-regulation and autonomy, a focus on external standards, a growth mindset, and increased effort, all of which produce better and deeper learning. A performance orientation, on the other hand, gets students comparing themselves to others (which discourages many students), keeps the power in the hands of teachers, relies on external motivation, and undermines the kind of work that truly boosts learning.

“Are We Motivating Students with Data?” by Caitlin Farrell, Julie Marsh, and Melanie Bertrand in Educational Leadership, November 2015 (Vol. 73, #3, p. 16-21),; the authors can be reached at,, and

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