Assessment Philosophy

CVIS is in the process of developing Power Standards and I Can Statements for the core subjects of reading, writing, and math and will launch all three of these at the start of the 2011-2012 school year.  Currently, the writing standards are being used in the classrooms and end-of-year 2010-2011 report cards for writing will reflect this new format.   These standards and statements will be an integral component for our assessment and grading system starting with the 2011-2012 school year.  Samples of the Standards and Statements are seen below.  The teacher and student uses the same scale, with the teacher’s evaluation used for mid-year and final grades.

What kind of assessment measures are used at CVIS?

At CVIS, we consider assessment to be an integral part of effective instruction. Thus, our policy on assessment goes hand-in-hand with our instructional practices.  We want our students to understand the benefits of a variety of assessments measures, to understand that these measures not only help them understand themselves better, not only help the educators implement meaningful instruction, but that they also can empower the student to have more control over their learning.  Our goal is to have students take pride and ownership in their work and outcomes, with assessments being one of many catalysts to make this happen.

Assessment at CVIS consists of three major categories: Formative, summative and norm-referenced.

  • Formative assessment is “the heart” of assessment and is a continual process used to monitor learning progress during lessons and units.  It provides feedback to both the student and teacher, helping drive instruction, identifying areas of weakness or strength, and ultimately creating an environment of differentiated instruction for each student.  Formative assessments include pretests, classroom and homework assignments, group participation and responses, teacher-student conversations and interviews, and student self-evaluation and goal-setting using Power Standards and I Can Statements.
  • Summative assessment is used at the end of a unit to assess if learning goals were met. It compares the student’s performance with the goals or standards for the unit.  Summative assessments could be end-of-unit projects, a written piece, an oral presentation, or a unit test. Projects and written pieces are compared to Power Standards and I Can Statements and help the student and teacher measure the student’s level of proficiency. Again, this information can be useful in self-evaluation and goal-setting.
  • Norm-referenced assessments compare student results with a large “norm.” CVIS uses the NWEA computerized test to assess reading and math. This test is given twice a year, in early fall and late spring.  Parents may choose to have their child exempt from this test, and any questions or concerns regarding a norm-referenced test may be discussed with teachers prior to the test.  We prefer that our parents be educated on how to interpret data. We also prefer that they understand these types of tests are just one small component of several assessment measures to measure student progress and understanding.  The NWEA results can be used to
    • Determine precisely which concepts a student has mastered, and which areas to focus on for academic growth.
    • Compare academic progress with other children in the class, grade or district.
    • Track academic growth along developmental curriculum scales over a school year or over several years – even if the student changes schools within a district.
    • Determine how to fine-tune specific programs from year to year.
    • Determine areas of weakness within the school system.

What are Power Standards?

Power Standards help teachers focus and prioritize what is most important for students to know and be able to do in the time available for teaching and learning. CVIS teachers looked at the Common Core Standards for each grade level to determine what is most important for students to learn. We also looked at our writing curriculum to make sure these standards and our current instruction are consistent. The key to power standards is to identify essential skills, concepts, and processes to be mastered at a given grade level. The teachers thought in terms of readiness for further study, leverage, and endurance.

  1. Readiness for Further Study: Students should have an opportunity to master skills, concepts and processes that will provide the necessary foundation for being successful in their studies.
  2. Leverage: Students should study skills, concepts and processes that have wide applicability to other areas of study.
  3. Endurance: Students should study skills, concepts and processes that they will likely draw on throughout their lives.

What are the Common Core Standards?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.

The NGA Center and CCSSO received initial feedback on the draft standards from national organizations representing, but not limited to, teachers, postsecondary educators (including community colleges), civil rights groups, English language learners, and students with disabilities. Following the initial round of feedback, the draft standards were opened for public comment, receiving nearly 10,000 responses.

The standards are informed by the highest, most effective models from states across the country and countries around the world, and provide teachers and parents with a common understanding of what students are expected to learn. Consistent standards will provide appropriate benchmarks for all students, regardless of where they live.

These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. The standards:

  • Are aligned with college and work expectations;
  • Are clear, understandable and consistent;
  • Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
  • Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
  • Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
  • Are evidence-based.

How many states are using the Common Core Standards?

All but ten states have adopted the Common Core Standards. Washington is one of these ten states. However, as shown below on this excerpt from our state’s Office of Public Instruction Site, we are well on our way to this formal adoption:

Washington is among the majority of states and territories that joined the Common Core State Standards Initiative and agreed to consider formal adoption. In July 2010, with earlier authorization from the Washington State Legislature (E2SSB 6696), Superintendent Dorn provisionally adopted the CCSS for English language arts and mathematics. According to the legislation, formal adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards cannot occur until after the 2011 legislative session, which provides an opportunity for legislative review.

What are “I Can” Statements?

Students like to know how successful they are in their progress toward achieving the goal or Power Standard. One easy way to help students see their success is through “I can” statements.  These statements are clear statements that identify each goal that is necessary in order to be successful. The heading of “I Can” is followed by specific action verbs as seen in the attached Power Standards and I Can statements.
These statements are in students’ talk and not in the standard’s educational jargon, so students can easily tell where they are in their educational journey.  However, some vocabulary that is essential for student learning is in bold lettering, indicating to students that these words are considered essential to know. The “I can” statements are brief and very specific. Students can monitor proficiency of each individual “I Can” statement as they achieve it so that they can see what they have been successful in and what they still have to achieve. They can share these statements with their teachers and parents.

Sample Power Standard and I can Statement:

Third Grade Writing Power Standard
(One of five writing standards)
Proficiency Scale
3.0 is equivalent to an end of third grade proficiency

Power Standard


Writes a quality opinion piece on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons. (This standard is unit specific with the Calkins Unit: Breathing Life into Essays)

0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0
Introduces topic or text and states an opinion
I can write an introduction that has a clear thesis
I can write an introduction that has a “catchy lead” or a “hook”

Creates an organizational structure that lists and supports reasons for the opinion

I can gather evidence to support my main idea or thesis- Lists, quotations, observations, and stories
I can categorize my ideas and evidence so I can use them to write my essay in an organized manner
I can organize my writing so that my thesis is supported with my evidence in at least three body paragraphs with clear topic sentences
I can use at least one story example to support my thesis
I can give an explanation of why my story helps prove my point

Uses linking words (because, therefore, for example)

I can use linking or transition words to connect my ideas (e.g., In addition…, On the other hand…, This is important because…)

Provides a concluding statement or section

I can include a conclusion that reinforces my thesis but also adds a new twist

How is Progress reported or what kind of grading system is in place at CVIS?

Currently we use a scaled grading system to indicate proficiency of standards.  A 3.0 represents meeting all the requirements for the current grade and can be thought of as an “A.”  As we switch to our power standards, the same scale will be in place, but the information will be simpler to understand for all the CVIS community, whether it be the teacher, student, or parent.