Prioritizing and Assessing Standards to Accelerate Learning

Assessment Learning Network, October 21, 2020

The 2020-21 ALN sessions will explore implications for teaching and assessing in virtual environments. As educators and students embrace the responsibility to impact learning in new distance, virtual, and hybrid environments necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will amplify and enhance what we know about good assessment practice and its ability to support learning.


When students and their teachers return to learning for the 2020-21 school year, they confront learning interruptions from COVID 19. Prioritizing grade-level standards and focusing instructionally embedded assessments and formative assessment practices on current grade-level standards promises to accelerate student learning. This strategy can help schools avoid the loss of valuable time identifying what wasn’t taught last year, and it provides the most equitable option available for Michigan’s students.

Four principles guide the assessment of prioritized grade-level standards:

  • Assessment should be used to determine how to bring students into grade-level instruction, not whether to bring them into it. Assessment should not be used as a gatekeeper to grade-level content.
  • The formative assessment process is our strongest tool to support and accelerate learning and growth; we must use it.
  • Targeted checks using instructionally embedded assessments (IEAs), followed immediately by the use of that information, will support instruction; use of diagnostic assessments, as suggested by IEAs and/or formative practices, will be helpful.
  • The first several weeks of school should focus on students’ social, physical, and emotional well-being and strengthen relationships and establish cultures conducive to learning.

This ALN session will introduce and expand upon the the guidance offered in the free Asynchronous Professional Learning Map titled, Prioritizing and Assessing Standards to Accelerate Student Learning. The Learning Map was prepared by the Michigan Assessment Consortium and offered in partnership with MAISA’s General Education Leadership Network (GELN) Continuity of Learning Task Force. It is one of a library of Learning Maps available on GELN’s interactive website to support local professional learning plans and provide high-quality resources to all teachers across Michigan in 2020-21

Event Resources

Presentation Video

Prioritizing and Assessing Standards to Accelerate Student Learning (to access specific chapters, open at

Presenter: Kathy Berry, Director of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment at Monroe County ISD

In her role at Monroe County ISD (MCISD), Kathy is responsible for providing and interpreting State testing information and training for MCISD staff and for educators in MCISD’s constituent districts/schools. Kathy provides assessment literacy support and training, as well as providing training and back-end support for several assessment tools. Additionally, she plans for and provides professional learning at the state and local levels in mathematics teaching and learning, growth mindset, standards-based grading, curriculum development and review, and more. Kathy has been a FAME (Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators) coach and continues to support and promote the formative assessment process. She is also the Immediate Past-President of the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM).

Presenter: Ed Roeber, Ph.D.

Ed Roeber is Assessment Director for the Michigan Assessment Consortium. Ed has served the MAC since 2007, first as co-founder (with Kathy Dewsbury-White and Kim Young), then as Board Secretary and Assessment Director. Ed previously served on the Development of the State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS) program for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). He also has had a long career at the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), contributing to the development of the employee wellness program, the creation of an employee child care program (Education Child Care Center or EC3), and to development and support for learning about formative assessment. Ed also has developed and delivered a three-course sequence on educational assessment for practitioners at Michigan State University.

Presenter: Ellen Vorenkamp, Ed.D., Assessment Consultant for Wayne RESA

Ellen Vorenkamp currently serves as an Assessment Consultant at Wayne RESA, where she provides consulting and presentation services to Wayne County schools and districts on the topics of Assessment Development, Balanced Assessment Systems, Formative Assessment Process and Use of Evidence to Impact Student Learning. She is the owner of MKJ Educational Consulting, LLC, which provides professional learning opportunities and consulting services to schools and districts outside Wayne County. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Concordia University.  Ellen contributes to the MAC’s Professional Learning Committee and also currently serves as a Lead Coach for the Michigan Department of Education’s FAME program (Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators). Previously, she spent 13 years teaching English language arts and social studies to high school and middle school students in both El Paso (Texas) and Detroit (Michigan).  

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