Ohio Performance Assessment Pilot Project
The state of Ohio is at the forefront of a movement to use performance assessment in classrooms. The Ohio Performance Assessment Pilot Project (OPAPP) calls for the development and pilot of a system of learning and assessment tasks (known as a “dyad” system) for elementary and high school students, as well as complementary professional development services. The performance tasks align with the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics, as well as Ohio’s Revised State Standards in Science, Social Studies, and Career Technical Pathways. They are delivered online using Web-based software that supports e-portfolios and similar tools.
Measured Progress staff members are drawing on their experience as item writers and teachers to carry out the requirements of the program, which calls for the development of hundreds of learning and assessment tasks by 2014. Learning tasks are formative tools used as part of instruction to scaffold student learning and enable teachers to assess students’ understanding as the material is being taught. Assessment tasks, used after the material has been taught, are tied closely to the learning tasks, enabling students to recognize what the assessment task is asking them, so they can use the knowledge and skills they acquired from the learning task to demonstrate the knowledge and skills being assessed. OPAPP also calls for the creation of Task Specifications Documents for both the learning tasks and assessment tasks. Those documents identify and describe the specific information the tasks cover.
Performance assessments are not new for Measured Progress. The company has led the development of such assessments since the 1980s. As a pioneer in alternate assessment for students with disabilities, Measured Progress has worked with numerous states to implement performance tasks and portfolios to capture what students who cannot participate in the general assessment know and can do.
Many states include constructed-response questions and other performance-related items in their large-scale assessment programs. However, some states have dropped such items to cut costs. Race to the Top and the formation of the SMARTER Balanced and PARCC assessment consortia have led to renewed interest in performance assessment. In the case of OPAPP, the demand is for items and tasks that go far beyond a string of open-response questions. The call is for students to demonstrate their mastery in ways other than writing, such as hands-on tasks. This means creating learning and assessment tasks (especially portfolios) for the use of the general student population that previously had been used primarily for alternate assessments.
As part of the OPAPP work, Measured Progress professional development staff has trained Ohio teachers to write performance tasks, to use a generalized rubric to guide student feedback, and to train colleagues to score assessment tasks. In addition, scoring experts are playing a key role in preparing educators to score responses.
Ohio has taken a unique approach to the pilot by including professional development in all components of the program—formative assessment techniques, technical training, writing learning tasks, and scoring assessment tasks. OPAPP focuses on changing practice, which requires sustained professional development. The project’s collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to PD brings together scoring and item development experts, as well as PD veterans, to collaborate on classroom-based assessment approaches.
At the completion of the contract, Ohio will have in place a system of development, scoring, and delivery of both the tasks and associated professional development. It is likely that the two assessment consortia will be interested in the OPAPP work, as both have outlined their desire to see performance assessments used in classrooms. Measured Progress’s role in OPAPP brings the company full circle, given its long history of leadership in the area of performance assessment.