Practice Activity: Examining Student Work
Plan an activity for examining student work
. Plan an activity for examining student work

Principals may need to show staff what an effective, systematic examination of student work looks like. When planning an activity, the principal will need to address the following questions:

  • Where, when, and how long will the discussion take place?
  • Who will participate?
  • What student work will you examine?
  • What questions do you hope to answer?
  • What questions will you use to focus the examination?
  • How will the activity work?
The question, “How will the activity work?” leads to the need to identify a structure or protocol to guide the examination of student work. The protocol that we developed to examine student work is described in more detail below. Even though other good protocols are available, we felt we needed to focus more sharply on defining proficiency as a team, on diagnosing student responses against the proficiency criteria, on understanding how to follow-up with a student to solicit more information and to provide useful feedback and finally to determine exactly what needs to be re-taught and how that might look all within a typical 45 minute team meeting time.

Using Student Work to Inform Instruction Protocol

This protocol to discuss student work was created to help grade level teams reflect on their definitions of proficient work on specified assignments or assessments and to reach consensus on what constitutes a proficient response as well as to diagnose the student performance in relation to proficiency to inform instruction. Each teacher will be asked to bring three samples of student work from the same assignment or assessment: a response at the top of the class, a response at the bottom of the class and a response in the middle of the class.

Part 1: Reaching Consensus about Proficiency?

What do you want your students to know and be able to do?

In the first part the facilitator will ask the following questions to assist the team in reflecting on their prior decisions about the assignment or assessment and in reaching consensus on what constitutes a proficient response.

  • What did you ask the students to do?
  • Which Maryland Content Standard indicator and objective were you assessing?
  • What did you consider proficient performance on this assignment?
  • Exactly what did students need to say or write for you to consider their work proficient?
  • Did you assign scores to the work? If so, how did you distinguish between scores?

Part 2: Diagnosing Student Strengths and Needs to Inform Instruction

After reaching consensus, each teacher will read his/her three sample student responses, and the team will diagnose strengths and needs and identify next instructional steps. The team will be examining what the response demonstrates the student knows and can do and what the student has not demonstrated he knows and can do. The team will be discussing where the teacher should take the student next instructionally. They will be answering that question for three groups of students: high, low and middle performance students on that assignment. The middle student will provide information about what the teacher needs to do instructionally for the class. The bottom student will provide information for what you need to do for that student. And the top student performance will drive the discussion about how to extend/enhance instruction. The team will be answering the following questions:

Where are my students? What evidence do I have to know that?

  • What did the student demonstrate that they knew?
  • What misconceptions or wrong information did the student have?
  • What did the student not demonstrate?
  • How would you find out if they knew it?
  • With hindsight, did the assignment give students a good opportunity to demonstrate what they knew?

What do you do if they do not know it? What do you do if they already know it?

Based on the team's diagnosis of the student performance, what do you do next with that student?

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