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:
Khizer Husain
Award Date:
March 2016
Grant Term:
24 months
Funding Priority:
Formative Assessment

Assessing Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

The School
Location: Washington, D.C.
Setting: Urban 
School Type: Charter
Targeted Grades: K-8
Number of Participating Students: 501-1,000
Number of Participating Teachers: 51-200
Curriculum Areas: Literacy, Math, Science, Social Studies, Intra- and/or Interpersonal Skills and Dispositions

The Team

  • Two Rivers Public Charter School
  • Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity  

The Project

Two Rivers nurtures students to be active participants in their own education. Students and teachers regularly review data (assessments and student work) to gauge progress on core content as well as deeper learning skills. Staff make adjustments to the instructional focus based on this data. Students participate in 10-week project-based learning expeditions that build the skills of critical thinking and problem solving. However, the school has not had a robust system for measuring growth in this area. None exists.

The Hypotheses 

  1. If we administer hour-long, discipline-agnostic, validated and reliable formative assessments (performance tasks) across grade bands, then we can effectively gauge the transfer of critical thinking skills outside the context of expeditions.
  2. If students are given this new data and rubrics, then they will be better equipped to speak specifically about their mastery (or deficits) of critical thinking skills separate from their mastery of standards.
  3. If staff are engaged in task design, administration, and scoring of tasks, then they will better appreciate the level of classroom rigor required for student skill mastery.

The Learning

There is a startling lack of assessments that give meaningful information to students about their growth in cognitive areas beyond the core content named in standards. Specifically, the project team has found that students have a weak grasp of their own development in the domain of critical thinking and how those skills can be transferred to other contexts. The assessment rubrics and tasks developed through this project will give educators a much-needed tool for quantifying and qualifying these essential areas.