Many skills and competencies important to student success, meaningful work and citizenship have proven difficult and costly to assess.  EdSteps (http://edsteps.org), a new grassroots Web-based resource, is being created to deliver a new way to gauge student growth in these areas.

When completed, EdSteps.org will offer a free, web-based public library of thousands of pieces of student work in each of five skill areas:  Writing, Global Competence, Creativity, Problem Solving, and Analyzing Information.  The work in each area will be presented in a continuum — a gradual progression — from emerging to accomplished work, so that students, parents, and teachers can understand clearly how an individual student’s performance compares to other students across the country and how that student can improve.

The public builds EdSteps by submitting, reviewing and providing comments on actual student work samples.  Currently, teachers, parents, school administrators and others are reviewing Writing samples.  EdSteps is collecting student work samples in Global Competence and Creativity. To review and submit work, please visit www.edsteps.org.

To create the continuum in each skill area, reviewers make paired comparisons, in which two pieces of work are compared to determine which is more effective. This research-proven method of evaluation is being used to develop a new way to assess these skills that are traditionally difficult or costly to assess in schools.

EdSteps collects about 5,000 samples of student work for each of the five skill areas. Researchers select a representative subset of about 1,000 samples that reflect variety in grade level, demographics, ability level, and attributes specific to the skill area. The samples in the subset will be paired according to a mathematical model and made available for review by the public. To create a continuum, there will need to be thousands of reviews done by hundreds of reviewers.

A project led by Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, EdSteps is being developed in partnership with state departments of education, school districts, institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, businesses, and individual participants from across the nation.

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