Blog Post

TALECS: Recapping our Collective Learning!

Lessons Learned from the TALECS Initiative: Part One


DiagramGood formative assessments tell you about students’ process as well as the products of their learning. This diagram, based on the work of Minstrell, Anderson, and Li (2011),shows how formative assessment can provide rich information that helps you better understand students learning and plan for students' next learning experience. Notice the focus on both what and how students are learning. More than just a way to give a grade, formative assessments are often accompanied by rubrics that help you interpret what students did—to see their strengths and where they need more help. This provides you with the information you need to plan and teach lessons tailored to students’ needs, as opposed to a march through a curriculum.

The research project TALECS (Teachers Assessing Learning in Exploring Computer Science) was developed for Exploring Computer Science (ECS) teachers to help build their assessment literacy for student learning while emphasizing the inquiry and equity at the core of ECS. TALECS concluded on September 30, 2019.

Over the course of a school year through online professional development (PD), the TALECS project helped teachers explore three methods of formative assessment: teacher journaling, portfolios, and creating one’s own performance assessment items. These methods can help address the ECS themes of equity and inquiry; the focus on how students are learning influenced both. As you collect information on how students are learning, you will come to understand the strengths in a wider range of student thinking. Inquiry is, by nature, a process so focusing on how students are learning will naturally include information on students’ engagement in inquiry. 

We thank all the teachers who participated in TALECS over the past two years. Their focus on their students' learning helped drive our PD and make it better. Stay tuned for future blog posts to hear more about what we learned from the project. In upcoming blog posts, we will give advice on the what, why, and how for each of the three formative assessment methods. 

1 Building on Learner Thinking: A Framework for Assessment in Instruction (commissioned paper for the Committee on Highly Successful STEM Schools or Programs for K-12 STEM Education: Workshop, May 10-11, 2011). Jim Minstrell and Ruth Anderson, FACET Innovations; and Min Li, University of Washington.


Groups and Partners


NOTE: SRI Education, in partnership with the American Institutes for Research and our CS for All Teachers community, implemented the TALECS virtual professional development (PD) project from 2017-19 with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) under contract number CNS-1640237. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.