Assessment is a critical component of implementing the C3. While the C3 pushes us to instruct differently, it also pushes us to think differently on how we assess student learning. If we are supposed to engage students in the inquiry arc, what does it look like to assess student learning not only aligned to the standards, but assess in a way that is meaningful to students and aligned to the shifts in the C3?
The C3 calls for shifts in not only how we assess, but what we assess.
Assessment of Content as well as Questioning Skills
Dimension 2 is indeed where much of the traditional content of social studies lives. That isn’t a major shift, but with the addition of further dimensions of social studies education, teachers will need to rethink the energy and time they put into the assessment of traditional content. Dimension 1 calls us to assess questioning skills. While social studies teachers have assessed research skills and engaged students in research tasks, the assessment of Dimension 1 may be different. Indeed, how will we help students develop their questioning skills, but also assess them? How will we assess students’ ability to “explain points of agreement experts have about interpretations and application of disciplinary concepts,” as well as “determining the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions?” While teachers may have assessed components and skills embedded in the C3, they will need to reexamine and study the standards to plan for intentional assessments aligned to questioning skills.
A Focus on Evidence
Similar to the focus of questioning skills, Dimension 3 calls for the assessment of explicit skills for gathering and using evidence effectively. Not simply using resources and evidence, but assessment should focus on mindful use of sources, from consideration of the variety of sources to developing claims and counterclaims. In there is a natural connection to the Common Core Writing Standards. Teachers should find ways to assess students’ use of evidence in the constructing of arguments and communicating information. However, the C3 allows teachers to also consider the breadth of evidence students must use–from maps to scholarly literature to economic data–and calls for them to assess students’ effectiveness in analyzing and using that evidence.
Overall, teachers we need to be mindful of assessing students’ evidence gathering skills and usage.
Authentic Performance Tasks Through Taking Action and Communicating Conclusions
Probably one of the most powerful shifts in assessment comes from Dimension 4, which focuses on students applying their knowledge and skills to communicate ideas and take informed action. Rather than simply recall knowledge and skills from the earlier Dimensions of the C3, students must be assessed on how well they communicate their ideas and conclusions from the inquiry. Then, how well they advocate or take action based on it. Here, students are being called to engage in authentic assessment, focusing on a connection to real world issues, problems, or challenges. Teachers need to create assessments that measure these skills as much as students’ knowledge of content.
Teachers will need ongoing support to craft, refine, and rethink assessments of all Dimensions of the C3. However, instead of falling into the pitfall of disparate assessments of the standards and skills across the dimensions, teachers can craft performance tasks to not only engage their students, but also to assess multiple standards of the C3 in meaningful ways.