Sam Ritchie

Samuel Ritchie is a consultant with 35 years of experience as a practitioner. For most of those years, he was the director of technology at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Illinois.

Collecting and Analyzing Common Assessment Data

While most teachers recognize the value of analyzing assessment data they often struggle with collecting the data. It is not sufficient to know how many questions each student answered correctly or how many students passed and failed. While collecting assessment data is possible without technology its use allows the collection and reporting of assessment data in a timely and user-friendly way. Software programs that use a browser and the Internet (web-based) to collect and report assessment data tend to more user-friendly and are designed with the teacher in mind. These programs allow students to take an assessment on a scan form or online,  score the assessment, and report the results (data) almost instantly in a predefined format. Characteristics of such programs include:

  1. Assessments that are aligned, by teachers, to state and/or local learning outcomes and graded automatically.
  2. Automatic multiple choice and performance based assessment grading.
  3. Access to immediate, actionable achievement information that teachers and administrators can use to adjust curriculum variables and improve student outcomes.
  4. Access to immediate and actionable student performance data so teachers can design and deliver appropriate student intervention and enrichment programs.
  5. Access to disaggregated and aggregated data by any level (student, teacher, course, section, grade, school and district)
  6. Reporting achievement by any student demographic group (including ethnic, IEP, ESL, Free and Reduced Lunch, etc.)
  7. Access to trend, comparative and progress reports by student subgroups, teachers, courses and learning standards.
  8. Complete visibility of learning objective mastery, through simplified reports that make it easy to know what students have or have not learned.

Representative of this group of programs is Mastery Manager by GoldStar Learning ( The underlying premise of Mastery Manager is that assessments should be created by those closest to the learning, the team, and that the resulting data should be directly accessible to the team.



I think is great to differentiate assessment in the classroom. The information that is gathered is very valuable. However, there never seems to be enough time to analyze the data. For instance, I find it very challenging to analyze all the running records from Guided Reading. It is very time consuming, and I feel I can be doing something more productive with the children instead of analyzing all those running records. In the education world, everything seems to be about testing and passing all of these standarizied tests. What happened to teachable moments? What happened to sharing time? It is very difficult to implement everything that seems valuable for our children when we need to focus on analyzing information. It is necessary to look at it, to see where students need help and carry on from there. However, I don’t agree on spending the majority of the time analyzing all different types of assessment which by the way will not be implemented the next year. It is very frustrating because ultimately, I want to the best teacher I can be for my students.

Posted on


I am currently an instructional coach in an intermediate building. We are in our first year of learning to function as PLCs. I am wondering if anyojne out there has examples of common assessment rubrics for related arts (PE, Art, Music, etc.) that they would be willing to share.

Posted on


Mount Eagle Elementary School - First Grade Team (Caryn Young, Barbara Adams, Beth Reidy, Meghan Carrick, and Jacquie Heller)

First of all, you have to look at first grade as "a work in progress"...

We assess our first graders each quarter in language arts with various assessments (Observation Survey, DRA, DRA Word Analysis, Writing Samples and others). To keep track of these assessments, we record quarterly progress on each student's literacy folder (DRA level, writing level, observation survey data, independent reading time, and quarterly effort and achievement report card grades). We have a “Literacy Folder Cover Sheet” which is where we record all of the scores. This cover sheet is an “at a glance” record of each student and allows everyone (specialists, aides, administration, etc) to see a summary of a student’s assessment data. We then meet as a team to discuss what the assessments tell us about individual student needs and what trends we see that needto be addressed such as groups of students who need extra work on short vowel sounds or retelling. We then set goals for those groups and plan instruction to meet those goals.

We have set benchmarks for each quarter in reading and writing. We have rubrics/checklists that we highlight each quarter using a different color each time so that we can see each quarter’s progress. In addition, we have established DRA and writing level expectations for each quarter, and students' progress towards these goals are also noted on the folders. Currently we are looking at our lowest first graders. We have developed an “Intervention Checklist” which lists all of the extra activities and helps each student receives and allows us to see what we have done and what areas still need support. As a team we have come up with an intervention plan to help these students meet grade-level benchmarks in reading and writing.

Posted on

PLC associate

What do math common assessments look like in grade 1:
Teacher use the Investigations curriculum as a resource for instruction, and within each investigation there are focus questions that teachers use to take anecdotal notes on students' thinking and understandings. Also there are both written tasks and performance based tasks that the students complete and teachers assess their understandings using focus questions provided. At the end of each Investigation's module (a unit of study) the students complete a paper/pencil common assessment based on the objectives covered in this unit of study. The common assessment consists of multiple choice, free response, and a performance task. Teachers grade all students common assessments and analyze the data as a team. This data is used to drive their instruction and determine what happens next in conjunction with the upcoming unit.

Also students take a Math Reasoning Assessment (summative) in the beginning of the year covering 1st grade objectives (multiple choice and free response). This data is analyzed as a team and used to drive instruction throughout the year. Also at the end of each quarter students are given a task which is graded using a rubric and this information is used to drive instruction. At the end of 1st grade the students are given a 2nd Math Reasoning Assessment (summative) covering 1st grade objectives taught throughout the year.

Posted on

Rick and Becky

We agree it will be helpful for your team to see exemplars as you're generating new products, especially products as important as instruments designed to help your team frequently monitor whether or not your students are learning the most important skills, concepts and dispositions for each subject in your curriculum. We recommend that team's focus on once subject at a time as you begin the process - don't try to tackle all subjects at once.

The following is a recommended list of resources your team should utilize as you design and administer a balanced program of high quality common, formative assessments.

Your team's list of Essential Outcomes & Pacing Guides for Each Subject
Recommendations from experts such as: Stiggins, Reeves, Ainsworth, Marzano,
Released items from your district, state/provincial, and national assessments
Websites such as:
Data from past indicators of achievement
Methods of alternative assessments
Examples of rubrics
Assessments from other high-performing teams
Individual Teacher-made classroom assessments
Textbook and other published assessments & tests

Many times assessments in first grade will be individualized and performance based. For example, in my former elementary school teachers found that they were administering individualized reading inventories in different ways. Some provided more wait time than others, some provided cues and some didn't, etc. So the assessments were not really common. For a team to gather the most helpful information, members must agree on the criteria they will use in assessing the quality of a student's work, must apply the criteria consistently, and must administer the assessment under similar conditions.

We are hopeful your request to see assessments from other first grade teams in PLCs will lead to a network of first grade teachers sharing examples of high quality assessments. Please keep in mind however, that the process a team goes through to arrive at the assessment product is what's most important. We encourage you to work with your colleagues to: 1) build shared knowledge on best practice in assessment and then 2) design your own common assessments aligned to your team's list of the essential student learning outcomes for each subject.

All the Best on the PLC Journey,

Posted on


I am the leader for my grade level PLC. I have had some training over the course of the last couple of years with PLC's but have much more learning to do.

I teach first grade and am wondering what types of issues other early elementary grade educators focused on in their PLC's and how/what types of common assessments they have tried with their students. Our PLC feels that it can be difficult to assess students on something when in first grade they are learning and being exposed to so many new ideas and concepts over the course of a year. I'd like an idea of what other people are doing so that, as a group, we can determine if we are on the right track.

Any help out there?

Posted on