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Volume 14, Number 2
March/April 1998

Teachers in the Driver's Seat

Collaborative assessment proves a positive way to reform schools and improve teaching


When teachers in the Monaca school district near Pittsburgh were first presented with new content standards in 1995-96, "they did what every good teacher would do-put them in a drawer," says Kathy Dabrowski, who is principal of three small neighborhood elementary schools in the 880-student district. But then Dabrowski countered with her own requirement: teachers had to turn in student work along with weekly lesson plans based on the new standards. Dabrowski followed up by discussing these plans and student work with the teachers, asking such questions as, "What are you doing here to get this work to a higher level?"

Monaca teachers from each grade level now spend half a day every month looking at student work together. Staff development experts from the Institute for Learning at the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) help teachers with these discussions. Also, teacher representatives from each of the grade levels in the district meet with parents weekly for a few hours after school to look at how student work is measuring up to standards.

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For Further Information

For Further Information

D. Allen. Tuning Protocol: A Process for Reflection. Providence, RI: Coalition of Essential Schools, February 1995.

T. Blythe et al. A Guide to Looking Collaboratively at Student Work. New York: Teachers College Press, in press.

K. Cushman. "Looking Collaboratively at Student Work: An Essential Tool Kit." Horace 13, no. 2 (1996). Available from Coalition of Essential Schools, Box 1969, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912.

Education Trust. 1725 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006.

B. Falk and S. Ort. Sitting Down to Score: Teacher Learning Through Assessment. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Teaching, 1997.

Harvard Project Zero. 323 Longfellow Hall, 13 Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138.

R. Lopez et al. Get Rolling! Washington, DC: Education Trust, 1998.

R. Mitchell. Front End Alignment. Washington, DC: Education Trust, 1996.

S. Seidel et al. Portfolio Practices: Thinking Through the Assessment of Children's Work. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Project Zero (NEA School Restructuring Series), 1997..