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The Arts In Every Classroom: A Workshop for Elementary School Teachers

The Role of Assessment in Curriculum Design

As the Learner Teams continue working on their own units, they examine strategies for determining how well students meet unit objectives. By revisiting the lessons in the first four programs, they discover how to build formative and summative assessments into the units that they are developing.

Workshop Leader Susanne Burgess engages the Learner Teams in a discussion of assessment strategies.

In Program 6, Learner Teams develop performance tasks and scoring guidelines to evaluate students’ performance on those tasks.

You also will create assessment tools.

The assessment practices discussed here can be used in designing curriculum for virtually any subject area.

Key Concepts/Vocabulary

  • Criteria: the essential components that demonstrate successful accomplishment of learning objectives
  • Formative assessment: evaluation that occurs throughout a unit of study to let teachers know how well students are learning what has been taught so far
  • Informal observations: teacher-conducted observations or recordings of a whole group, a small group, or individual learner performances
  • Performance tasks: activities that allow the learner to demonstrate his understandings through a scenario, employing a goal and a role to create a product or performance for a given audience
  • Reflection: the opportunity for learners to think about previous learning and how it affected their understanding and decisionmaking; it can be expressed in verbal or written form
  • Rubric: a scoring guide that includes all criteria for a range of levels of achievement; it is provided to learners prior to learning activities and uses clear and concise language
  • Summative assessment: an evaluation conducted at the end of a lesson or unit of study to measure accomplishment of a completed process or product

Plans for Design Assessment

Plans for Designing Assessment (PDF)
The Learner Teams continued their investigation into curriculum design by looking at different kinds of assessment and creating performance tasks. These materials will help guide you through the curriculum development process either on your own or with a group of colleagues.



Having used assessment as a starting point for curriculum design, you now are prepared for the next step in the “backward planning” curriculum design process: developing sequence and content for your lesson plans.

Consider these key elements as you continue to develop lesson plans and write notes in your journal:

  • Content: The knowledge and skills you intend to measure through your performance task represent what you must teach in this unit. How many lessons will it take for students to learn what they need to successfully complete the task?
  • Instruction: As you develop content, consider various ways students could learn it, including both traditional and inquiry-based methods of instruction. If most of the instructional strategies you plan seem traditional, try more inquiry-based methods. What methods help your students learn most effectively? A daily lecture? A hands-on activity? A combination of approaches?
  • Integration of subjects: Integrate a variety of subjects only if each subject plays an essential role in the learning that is desired. If you took one of the intended subjects out, would students still get what they should out of the lesson or unit?

If possible, apply the ideas from Program 6 in your own classroom. For example, create a lesson plan integrating the arts based on the knowledge and skills that you want to assess. Design a performance task that would enable students to show that they have achieved the relevant objective.



The following required readings will support your understanding of Program 6 for the for-credit workshop:

  • Criteria for Planning Multi-Arts Instruction (PDF)
  • “Arts Assessment Guide” by Ray Wilkins, Pennsylvania Department of Education. This guide is intended to assist teachers in matching challenging curriculum and instruction with authentic assessment strategies that mirror the teaching/learning experience.
  • “Assessment in the Arts” This is an online discussion of arts assessment with sample learning outcomes and indicators.

To prepare for Program 7, review these readings:

Ongoing Activities

Here are some other activities that can boost learning between workshop sessions.

Watch some or all of these programs from The Arts in Every Classroom: A Video Library, K-5.

Learn more about Cirque du Soleil and its many productions:

  • Visit Cirque du Soleil’s Web site at
  • Research reviews, feature articles, or other material on Quidam at your public library or on the Web.

Share the results of your homework with other participants informally before or after your next workshop session.