7 Principles of Student Centered Classroom Assessment

It’s dangerous to try and summarize something as complex as classroom assessment, but here’s my best effort at presenting the tenets underlying my approach:

Rick Corwin Quote

Principle 1 Assessments require clear thinking and effective communication. Those who develop and use high quality assessments must share a highly refined focus. They must be clear thinkers, capable of communicating effectively, both to those being assessed and those who must understand the assessment results.

Principle 2 Classroom assessment is the key. Teachers direct the assessments that determine what students learn and how those students feel about the learning. Nearly all of the assessment events that take place in students’ lives happen at the behest of their teachers.

Principle 3 Students are assessment users. Students are the most important users of assessment results. Students are consumers of assessment results – right from the time students arrive at school, they look at their teachers for evidence of success. If that early evidence suggests they are succeeding, what begins to grow in them is a sense of hopefulness and an expectation of more success in the future.

The quality of any assessment depends first and foremost on the clarity and appropriateness of our definition of the achievement target to be assessed.

Principle 4 Clear and appropriate targets are essential. The quality of any assessment depends first and foremost on the clarity and appropriateness of our definition of the achievement target to be assessed.

Principle 5 High quality assessment is a must. High quality assessment is essential in all assessment contacts. Sound assessments must satisfy five specific quality standards: 1) clear targets; 2) focused purpose; 3) proper method; 4) sound sampling; and 5) accurate assessment free of bias and distortion.

Principle 6 Understand the personal implications. Assessment is an interpersonal activity. The principle has two important dimensions. The first has to do with the important reality of life in classrooms: Students are people and teachers are people, too, and sometimes we like each other and sometimes we don’t. Second, assessment is very complex in that it virtually always is accompanied by personal anecdotes and personal consequences.

Principle 7 Assessment as teaching and learning. Assessments and instruction can be one and the same, if and when we want them to be.


My Work on Classroom Assessment


About Rick Stiggins

Rick Stiggins is retired founder of the Assessment Training Institute, Portland OR, a professional development company devoted to promoting assessment literacy at all levels of education. He holds a PhD in educational measurement from Michigan State (1972) and has served on the faculties of MSU, Minnesota, and Lewis and Clark College. Rick also directed test development at ACT in Iowa City and directed R&D programs at the Northwest Regional Educational Lab in Portland. He has devoted his career to understanding the task demands of classroom assessment and its links to teaching and learning. His professional development programs have helped teachers and school leaders across the continent and around the world face the challenges of assessment with renewed confident and competence.

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