Reimagining Assessment
Reimagining Assessment

Educators are rethinking the purposes, forms, and nature of assessment. Beyond testing mastery of traditional content knowledge—an essential task, but not nearly sufficient—educators are designing assessment for learning as an integral part of the learning process.

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Primary Contact Name:
Alec Barron
Award Date:
March 2016
Grant Term:
18 months
Funding Priority:
Formative Assessment, Technology Tools & Data

Science and Engineering Competency-based Assessment

The School:

Location: Escondido, CA
Setting: Urban
School Type: District
Targeted Grades: 9-12
Number of Participating Students: 501-1,000
Number of Participating Teachers: Less than 10
Curriculum Areas: Literacy, Science

The Team: Del Lago Academy opened in 2013 for the purpose of creating a school-to-college and career pipeline connecting local students to science-related careers within the region.

The Project

Del Lago Academy intends to ensure that all of its scholars are adequately prepared to transfer what they learn in school to real-world academic laboratory and industry settings. The team is fully implementing a science competency-based assessment system. “Competency X” is personalized for the school’s learners and results in a curated digital portfolio that scholars use to track and reflect on evidence of their competency with science and engineering practices. Digital badges that are validated by industry and college partners are assigned when scholars have met specific criteria for these practices in their digital portfolio. Scholars use the badges as evidence of their competency with the knowledge and skills required to be a scientist for their internships and their college applications.

Essential Questions

  • How do we develop competency based assessments that are formative in nature and promote reflective thinking on the part of the learner about how to improve?
  • How do we give scholars more opportunities to succeed with skills required to be a competent scientist on performance based tasks?
  • How can K-12 form partnerships with industry partners to develop meaningful assessment systems that can certify scholars as ready for internships and industry level work?

The Learning

This approach to assessment can be used to learn how to address “practices” and “habits of mind” for a discipline without turning them into mechanistic skills that are checked off by the learner and are divorced from big questions that inspire what the project team calls “nerdy delight.” This is why the portfolio and digital badges are the most most central piece of the system. They are intentionally designing Competency X so that other educators can seed additional creative approaches that make learning social, emotional, and relevant for our youth. The team is sharing publications, blog posts, and tools to implement similar approaches with assessment at