Curriculum-Embedded Performance Task in English Language Arts

Curriculum-Embedded Performance Task in English Language Arts

Curated by
Marianne Justus

Curriculum-Embedded Performance Task in English Language Arts

Evidence and Elaboration

College and career success depends, in part, on an ability to make and support claims with logical reasoning and relevant evidence from accurate, credible sources. However, students often struggle in drawing together multiple sources to compose an argument that supports their thesis. Educators can support students developing analytical writing skills by modeling how to select and elaborate on evidence from a single text. When teachers show students how to select appropriate evidence and provide opportunities to discuss their choices with peers, they put students in a better position to do this work themselves.

The classroom videos in this collection document a teacher and a literacy coach’s progress through the formative assessment cycle as they collaborate to support all students through careful planning and scaffolding of a mini-performance task. Each video highlights one stage in the cycle for this task. Watch how the teacher and coach analyze student work for common misunderstandings and modify instruction accordingly. Working together, they draw on the principles of Universal Design for Learning and the Smarter Balanced ELA/Literacy writing rubrics in the design and implementation of this task.

These resources can be used by individuals or teams of educators who want to better understand the formative assessment cycle, curriculum-embedded performance assessment, and scaffolding the kinds of writing demands seen in the Smarter Balanced ELA performance task full write. The interactive questions in the videos are designed to prompt reflection on practice and inform teaching and learning.

These resources were developed through the Building Educator Assessment Literacy project, a partnership of WestEd and the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, & Equity with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett, S.D. Bechtel, Jr., and Stuart Foundations. They were designed to support an online course focused on formative assessment practice and mini-performance tasks aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balanced performance tasks. This course was available to educators and instructional leaders who participated in a two-day professional development event designed to support teachers in understanding Smarter Balanced performance tasks and scoring tools, learning from student responses, and implementing a performance task in their own classrooms.

Clarifying Intended Learning in ELA: Analyze Task & Plan


In the first phase of the formative assessment cycle, the teacher and instructional coach collaborate to plan a mini-performance task in which students select evidence from an informational text on the topic of fear and practice elaborating on how evidence supports their argument. The goal is for students to be able to independently select and elaborate on appropriate evidence from multiple sources. This mini-task provides  scaffolded opportunities for students to practice one step in this process.

Eliciting Evidence in ELA: Implementing a Task


In the second phase of the performance task process, the coach implements the mini performance task by modeling for students how to select and analyze evidence and then giving students guided opportunities to practice these skills. Beforehand, she considers how to use Universal Design for Learning principles and instructional strategies to support all students to be successful on the task.

Analyzing and Interpreting Evidence from an ELA Performance Task


Once students turn in their work, the instructional coach and teacher analyze and evaluate student writing samples from the performance task. They look specifically at the evidence that students selected and how well students elaborated on the evidence, using a modified Smarter Balanced rubric to score students’ writing.

Giving Feedback on ELA Assessments



The instructional coach prepares and delivers feedback to a selected group of students on the writing mini-task, focusing on what it means to elaborate on evidence.

Modifying Instruction in English Language Arts



The instructional coach delivers feedback to the whole class. She modifies instruction in the classroom based on her analysis of student work on the selecting and analyzing evidence writing mini-task.