high school assessment introduction.
In 2004 Oakland Unified instituted a district-wide writing high school writing assessment for 11th grade U.S. History students. The OUSD Teaching American History grants (2001-2004, 2004-2007, and 2008-2011) collaborated with the district history/social studies staff to design, pilot, and implement these assessments. For a more complete discussion of this work see
As outlined in the introduction to the high school materials the goals of this work include:
- improving student ability to construct a coherent and thoughtful historical essay that uses primary and secondary sources to support an historical argument;
- enhancing student and teacher knowledge and understanding of key issues and questions in American history; and
- promoting equity across the district through common scoring sessions and staff development; ensuring that what constitutes quality work in one teacher?s classroom is comparable to what constitutes quality work in another teacher?s classroom.
To support the success of this work the OUSD Teaching American history grant and the district are building a vertical strand into middle school classrooms. This work, begun in 2006, is moving forward with the first district wide implementation of an 8th grade U.S. History assessment in the Spring of 2009. Similar to the 11th grade assessments the 8th grade assessments have students work with primary and secondary sources to develop an argument, supported with evidence, in response to an historical question. But unlike the 11th grade assessments, which provide students only the question and documents to work with, the 8th grade assessments provide students the questions and a series of lessons designed to support their success in developing the historical essay. In this context, we want to know what kinds of lessons and support materials are most successful in helping students increase their ability to write a coherent and thoughtful historical essay.
Here are the assessment materials that have been developed for 8th grade classrooms.