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Building Educator Assessment Literacy (BEAL)

What is BEAL?

The BEAL project focuses on the role of performance assessment in a balanced assessment system. Participants will collaboratively score student work from a Smarter Balanced performance task and reflect on how to respond to evidence of student learning generated by this task in ways that move student learning forward.

What happens during a BEAL workshop?

In an Oregon BEAL workshop, the day begins with framing the concept of assessment literacy and where performance assessment fits within the various assessment types and purposes. Then participants will spend the rest of their day collaborating with colleagues in like content areas on:

  • scoring student work from Smarter Balanced performance tasks to build a common understanding of what student proficiency looks like;
  • reviewing student work as the basis for reflecting on the evidence of learning that performance tasks can generate; and
  • planning ways of using performance tasks as part of formative assessment practice, including providing feedback and planning instructional practices.

If you are interested in participating in a BEAL event, please contact your educational service district to discuss events in your area.

Workshop Resources


English Language Arts

Related Resources

  • Performance Assessment Resource Bank

    High-quality and expert-reviewed performance tasks as well as resources and tools designed by assessment experts and experienced educators to support the use, development, review, and scoring of performance tasks. The Bank is continually expanding but a list of tasks available in December 2016 shows the scope of tasks available.

  • Formative Assessment Resources

    Resources for peer and self-assessment, lesson planning, and building a collaborative class culture.

  • Quality Performance Assessment: A Guide for Schools and Districts

    A set of practices and principles developed by Center for Collaborative Education for implementing performance assessment with technical quality wherein educators work together to align, design, and analyze performance assessments to increase student achievement and equity of outcomes.

  • Local Performance Assessment Requirement

    Description of the local performance assessment requirement with resources for Official State Scoring Guide use.

  • Social and Emotional Learning Resources

    Resources to promote a classroom environment in which students can participate fully, while developing interpersonal and intrapersonal skills for success in school and life.

  • Understanding Proficiency

    Resources to help educators develop a deeper understanding of the Common Core State Standards by analyzing student work on performance tasks. Central to these resources are samples of real student work on the Smarter Balanced Practice Test ELA/Literacy performance tasks. (The math section will be coming later in 2017.)

  • Smarter Balanced Practice Tests

    The Practice Tests allow teachers, students, parents, and the public to experience a Smarter Balanced test, including the performance task.

  • Rigor and Depth of Knowledge Resources

    In the Quality Performance Assessment: A Guide for Schools and Districts see the Step 2 (starting on page 20) in the process of aligning instructional practices to the principles of formative assessment. See also, Hess’ Cognitive Rigor Matrix and Curricular Examples (Tools 5 and 6, pages 156-17) as well as Gradients in Complexity: Text Complexity Rubrics (Tools 11 and 12, pages 167-168).

BEAL and Local Performance Assessment Requirement

In Oregon, the Local Performance Assessment Requirement states that school districts shall include one or more local performance assessments for grades 3 through 8 and for high school in writing, speaking, mathematical problem solving, and scientific inquiry. Performance assessments are defined as: A standardized measure (e.g. activity, exercise, problem, or work sample scored using the official state scoring guide) embedded within the curriculum that evaluates the application of knowledge and skills.

Notably, work samples are just one example of a performance assessment. For more information, access the full explanation of the Local Performance Assessment requirement.

Why Should We Learn about Performance Assessments?

Compared to multiple-choice questions, performance tasks offer educators the opportunity to gain deeper insight into students’ knowledge and skills. Thus, they have the potential to yield more effective teaching and learning.

The BEAL project was designed to provide participants with examples of performance assessments and students’ actual responses. By looking at student responses, participants come to understand the underlying expectations, which can then guide their own instruction. That understanding deepens as they then collaboratively score samples of student work on the tasks.

Vignette from a BEAL Workshop

A group of elementary educators huddle around a table in a conference room at an airport hotel in Portland, Oregon. They lean in and listen intently to one of their colleagues until a woman at the table shakes her head. “I just don’t see it that way,” she says, pointing her pen at a paper marked up with yellow, green, and blue highlighting. The paper is a student response to the essay portion of a Smarter Balanced English language arts/literacy (ELA) performance task. “I just don’t see this as integrated evidence in the second paragraph,” she continues. “To me, this is imprecise and weakly integrated.” The conversation progresses, each person coming back to the colorful text to argue an idea, until the group reaches a consensus: That the student essay should earn a “2” out of “4” on the rubric for “Evidence and Elaboration.”

These teachers are participating in a Building Educator Assessment Literacy (BEAL) training, and they’re scoring and discussing student work from a Smarter Balanced performance task. As they negotiate and come to a consensus about the score, they are forming a shared understanding of what it looks like for students to demonstrate mastery of the Common Core State Standards — and are considering what this new understanding means for their teaching.

Building Educator Assessment Literacy (BEAL) is a collaboration between Oregon Department of Education, WestEd, and Understanding Language - Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (UL-SCALE). BEAL professional development events will be conducted by a team of Oregon educators who were trained by WestEd and UL-SCALE.

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As a state investment, this project uses—wherever possible—royalty-free, editable, shareable professional development resources so all Oregon educators can benefit. Unless otherwise noted, this work is offered under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.