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About Assessments

The Artful Assessment website is intended to be part of a larger conversation about assessment and arts integration. The goal is to provide specific examples of formative assessments aligned with lesson activities and the Maine Learning Results, and to show evidence of student learning through looking at, discussing, and creating works of art. Because assessment is a broad and complex topic, the Artful Assessment project focused on experimenting with formative assessment. We came to think of this process as “making the invisible visible.” Teachers know when their students “get it” when something clicks for them, when they make a leap, when they learn. We tried to give teachers some tools and techniques to capture and document those moments. The teacher reflections are candid about the successes and challenges of formative assessment, the video clips are an attempt to show some assessment techniques in action, and the examples of student work show their process and own reflections.

The Portland Museum of Art would like to extend our deepest thanks to Dr. Ken Jones, Director of Teacher Education at the University of Southern Maine, who worked with the Museum and local teachers for two years on effective assessment techniques, and to Dr. Trudy Wilson, Associate Professor of Art Education at USM, who provided tools for arts-integration, questioning strategies when discussing works of art, and arts assessment. Their expertise, good humor, and professionalism made for informative and engaging workshops for teachers.

Artful Assessment asked teachers to try different formative assessment techniques. It is important to define the different kinds of assessment:

  • Summative assessment summarizes student learning at a specific point in time, the most common forms of summative assessments are written tests, particularly standardized tests.
  • Formative assessment is immediate, contextualized feedback during the learning process that is useful and constructive for both the student and the teacher.

The idea of formative assessment is that it informs teaching. The key to good formative assessment is that teachers implement the assessment, understand the results, and adapt their teaching to the maximum benefit of the students. An important aspect of effective formative assessment is feedback, and timely feedback is crucial. Several teachers commented in their reflections how some assessments had limited success because they were implemented at the end of the project when students no longer had the time or opportunity to change their work based on the feedback.

Five Key Strategies for Formative Assessment

From Dr. Ken Jones

  1. Sharing Learning Expectations
    Clarifying and sharing learning intentions and criteria for success
  2. Questioning
    Engineering effective classroom discussions, questions, and learning tasks
  3. Feedback
    Moving learners forward with feedback
  4. Self-assessment
    Activating students as the owners of their own learning
  5. Peer assessment
    Activating students as instructional resources for one another
    One Big Idea
    Using evidence of learning to adapt instruction

For more about assessment for learning, see Classroom Assessment: Minute by Minute, Day by Day by Siobhan Leahy, Christine Lyon, Marnie Thompson and Dylan Wiliam in Educational Leadership, November 2005, Volume 63, Number 3, pages19-24.

Definitions of types assessment tools used in Artful Assessment

This chart shows the assessments used in each lesson. You can have a quick look at what the lessons offer or search by type of assessment.

  • Peer review – students assessing others and giving feedback using checklists and worksheets based on specific criteria and learning objectives
  • Self-assessment – students assessing their work using checklists and worksheets based on the criteria and learning objectives
  • Self-assessment of group work – students assessing how they worked in a group, and how their group performed
  • Student reflection – student writing about their work
  • Teacher observation and feedback – verbal feedback during conversation and classroom work
  • Teacher observation checklist – used by teachers to guide observation of class discussions based on specific criteria and learning objectives
  • Charts of class discussion – documentation of the students’ observations, conversation, and questions
  • Student artwork – preliminary work and final products
  • Student writing – preliminary work and final products
  • Rubrics – checklists for summative assessment
  • Video – students and teachers in action



  • Burnaford, Gail; Aprill, Arnold; Weiss, Cynthia; and CAPE: Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education. Renaissance in the Classroom: Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning. New Jersey and London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2001.
  • Dorn, Charles M.; Madeja, Stanley S.; and Sabol, F. Robert. Assessing Expressive Learning: A Practical Guide for Teacher-Directed Authentic Assessment in K-12 Visual Arts Education. New Jersey and London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2004.
  • Beattie, Donna Kay. Assessment in Art Education. Massachusetts: Davis Publications, 1997.
  • Armstrong, Carmen L. Designing Assessment in Art. Virginia: National Art Education Association, 19994.


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