Culturally Responsive Assessment in Teaching

Types of Learning Targets

One way to determine if your targets are clear and usable is to determine what kind of learning is being called for. Learning targets are classified into a framework that identifies five kinds of learning targets: knowledge, reasoning, skill, product, and disposition. 

Learning Target Types

Knowledge Targets

  • Knowledge targets represent the factual information, procedural knowledge, and conceptual understandings that underpin each discipline or subject matter. 
    • Math Example: Recognizes acute, obtuse, and right angles
    • ELA Example:   Identifies nouns and verbs
    • Science Example: Describes how organisms interact with each other to transfer energy and matter in an ecosystem. 

Reasoning Targets

  • Reasoning targets specify thought processes students are to learn to apply effectively (do well) within a range of subjects; e.g., solve problems, make inferences, draw conclusions, form, and defend judgment.
  • Students should develop the ability to apply knowledge in authentic contexts - that is, in contexts that transfer to work and life beyond school. This target requires students to engage in reasoning using their knowledge.
  • Reasoning processes can be thought of as falling into one of six overall patterns of reasoning: inference, analysis, comparison, classification, evaluation, and synthesis. 
  • Together, the six patterns of reasoning represent those most commonly found among taxonomies, content standards documents, and assessments. 
  • To test reasoning proficiency, the key is to determine "Who is doing the reasoning?" Are the students doing something more than remembering the answers?

      Six Patterns of Reasoning

  • Inference: Making a reasonable guess based on information or clues
  • Analysis: Examining the components or structure of something
  • Comparison: Describing similarities and differences between two or more items
  • Classification: Sorting things into categories based on certain characteristics
  • Evaluation: Expressing and defending an opinion, a point of view, a judgment, or a decision
  • Synthesis: Combining discrete elements to create something new

    Examples of Reasoning Targets

  • Math Reasoning Target - Uses data from a random sample to draw inferences about a population with an unknown characteristic of interest
  • ELA Reasoning Target - With prompt and support, describes the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear.
  • Social Studies Reasoning Target -  Compares and contrasts points of view from a historical event
  • Science Reasoning Target - Draws conclusions from experiment results
  • Health/PE Reasoning Target - Uses criteria to set goals for improving health and fitness practice
  • The Arts - Compares purposes of chosen musical examples (Music)
  • The Arts - Evaluates the quality of own work to refine it (Visual Arts)

Skill Targets

  • Skill targets are those learning targets where a real-time demonstration or physical performance is the heart of learning. 
  • Subjects such as physical education, fine arts, performing arts, and world languages, have skill development as the core of their discipline.

Examples of Skill Targets 

  • Math Skill Target - Measures the length of an object twice, using length units of different lengths for the two measurements
  • ELA Skill Target - Pronounces, blends, and segments syllables in spoken words
  • Social Studies Skill Target - Participates in civic discussions
  • Science Skill Target - Uses laboratory equipment safely
  • Health/Physical Education Skill Target - Dribbles to keep the ball away from an opponent; passes and receives on the move
  • The Arts Skill Target - Integrates voice into character development (Theater)

Product Targets 

  • Product targets specification for qualities of a good product are the focus.
  • Product examples include " creates tables, graphs, scatter plots, and box plots to display data effectively.   
  • Curricula generally include far fewer product targets than knowledge and reasoning targets. 
  • Term papers, research reports, and lab reports are product targets when the curriculum guide, calls for students to create them. 
  • When products are assessed it yields evidence of the intended learning because the creation of the product is the stated learning.
  • Does the content standard call for the creation of a product? If so, it's a product target.
  • Confusing the activity with the learning target can cause difficulties when classifying product targets.
  • If the learning target does not call for the creation of a product, but you want to classify it as a product target, it is possible that you are including the task or activity students will engage in. 
  • The key question is " What is the intended learning" not "How will students demonstrate it?"

Examples of Product Targets

  • Math Product Target - Draws a bar graph to represent a data set with up to four categories.
  • ELA Product Target - Writes opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
  • Social Studies Product Target - Creates a timeline to show the order of early explorations and settlements.
  • Science Product Target -Makes pictographs to describe observations and draw conclusions.
  • Health/PE Product Target - Develops a personal health-related fitness plan.
  • The Arts Product Target - Creates drawings demonstrating one- and two-point perspectives (Visual Arts). 

Disposition Targets

  •  Disposition targets reflect attitudes and feelings. 
  • Disposition targets represent important affective goals we hold for students as byproducts of their educational experience and not assessed for the purpose of grading.
  • Although dispositions are nonacademic, they hold students accountable.

Examples of Disposition Targets

  • ELA Disposition Target - Look forward to group discussions
  • Math Disposition Target - Sees mathematics as important to learn
  • Social Studies Disposition Target - Respects individual worth and human dignity
  • Science Disposition Target - Seeks opportunities to understand how things work.
  • Health/PE Disposition Target - Enjoys playing a sport
  • The Arts Disposition Target - Values practice for its own sake.