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MarylandFine Arts Education Instructional Toolkit
General Audience Dance Music Theatre Visual Arts
Maryland Fine Arts Education
Developing Fine Arts Assessments
Integrating Fine Arts Across the Curriculum
Assessment Outcomes and Implications

Using Assessment Data to Inform Instructional Practice

Regardless of the purpose of assessment—summative or formative, large-scale or classroom—data obtained from an assessment should clearly align with one or more measurable objectives in the Voluntary State Curricula (VSC).  Assessment scores should allow teachers and other practitioners to describe the proficiency addressed and determine whether students have demonstrated little or no proficiency, some proficiency, or considerable proficiency.  Proficiency, however defined for a particular assessment activity aligned with a single VSC objective, does not necessarily signify proficiency at a broader indicator or content standard level.

A few traditional assessment items (i.e., selected response and constructed response items) that measure only one or two VSC objectives are unlikely to provide as clear a picture of student learning as would multiple sets of items, each addressing multiple sets of objectives sampled from indicators across all four content standards to which students respond over time.  The frequency, breadth, and depth of classroom assessment should be such that educators are confident that assessment results are generalizable (i.e., allow inferences to be drawn about overall proficiency based on specific assessment activities) and accurately convey what students know and can do in the fine arts.

Generalizations about student performance are likely to be maximized if:

  • The assessment activity or activities in which students engage clearly match one or more VSC objectives.
  • There are multiple opportunities OR a single but more comprehensive opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in those objectives.
  • The assessment activities, taken together, provide multiple measures within and across each of the four VSC content standards in a given arts content area.
  • The assessment activities, taken together, reflect a variety of types of assessments (assessment modes).
  • Scoring focuses on the knowledge being assessed, rather than on factors such as neatness, timeliness, length, or creativity, all of which may be valued but do not align with any specified VSC objectives.
It is important to remember that the central purpose of classroom assessment is to obtain information that helps teachers deliver instruction more effectively and promote student learning.  That is, its purpose should be to help teachers determine what or how they should be teaching, in order to increase students’ proficiency and achievement.  Knowing that a particular student received a 65 on one quiz or fulfilled a set of requirements for a specific project does not provide constructive information about “next steps.”  Well-supported inferences about performance at the VSC objective, indicator, and content standard levels help teachers create a profile of each student’s learning.  They also point the way to appropriate instructional targets and strategies in ways that merely grading student work (or determining how fully and effectively the student fulfilled an assignment) cannot.

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