To help schools involved with Maine’s Learner-Centered Accountability Project, staff from the Southern Maine Partnership (S.M.P.) and participating schools have created a comprehensive assessment system model. S.M.P. schools are in the process of integrating this model into their assessment systems.
Level I assessments are the multitude of assessments typically used in classrooms: vocabulary quizzes, study guides and other demonstrations of mastery of particular curriculum units. As students succeed in completing Level I assessments throughout the year, they pass their individual courses.
Level II assessments tie the curriculum of a particular course toward specific criteria in Maine’s Learning Results. Students must successfully complete Level II assessments both to pass a course and to graduate from high school. Elementary and middle school teachers can use Level IIs to determine promotion from one grade to the next. Level IIs are “bigger” demonstrations of knowledge within a course, occurring three to five times per year. For example, Mt. Ararat Middle School’s Gerrie Netko created the Hometown Zoo, the culminating Level II assessment for a unit on the factors that promote diversity, adaptation, and natural selection, in which students design a zoo habitat that meets the survival needs of their chosen animal.
Level III assessments function similarly to Level IIs, determining that a student has met the standards both for a particular course and ultimately for graduation. Level IIIs differ in that they cross the curriculum and ask students to demonstrate multidisciplinary mastery. At Sacopee Valley High School, biology and English teachers work with students on a bioethics debate, on which depends evaluation in both subject areas.
Level IV assessments correlate with portfolios or culminating student exhibitions-these occur from grade to grade and are especially useful as high-school exit criteria, as they require students to pull together knowledge and skill across subject areas and from throughout their years of schooling. Level IVs are performance-related assessments, requiring students to demonstrate varieties of active learning. Level IVs demonstrate overall mastery not only of single/multiple areas of the curriculum but also attainment of the Maine Learning Results’ Guiding Principles, which state that students are clear and effective communicators, self-directed and life-long learners, creative and practical problem solvers, responsible and involved citizens, collaborative and quality workers, and integrative and informed thinkers.
See the Southern Maine Partnership’s web site for additional in-depth information about Local Comprehensive Assessment Systems: www.usm.maine.edu/smp/projects/lca.html