Cover Graphic

Assessment Literacy

An Educator's Guide to Understanding Assessment, K-12

Thomas DeVere Wolsey, Susan Lenski, and Dana L. Grisham
Foreword by Diane Lapp

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
January 21, 2020
ISBN 9781462542086
Price: $79.00
194 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
January 21, 2020
ISBN 9781462542079
Price: $29.00
194 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
December 23, 2019
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $29.00
194 Pages
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $58.00 $31.90
194 Pages

This clear, no-nonsense book guides current and future teachers through the concepts, tools, methods, and goals of classroom literacy assessment. The expert authors examine the roles of formative, summative, and benchmark assessments; demystify state and national tests and standards; and show how assessment can seamlessly inform instruction. Strategies for evaluating, choosing, and interpreting assessments are discussed, as are ways to communicate data to parents and administrators. User-friendly resources include boxed vignettes from teachers and researchers, practical assessment tips (and traps to avoid), and 12 reproducible planning forms and handouts. Purchasers get access to a Web page where they can download and print the reproducible materials in a convenient 8½“ x 11” size.

Assessment Literacy is more than just a guide—it’s a mindset change. The book reframes assessment as 'story' and helped me find a more comfortable stepping-in point for using assessments as a tool for (and with) instruction. Classroom teachers who want assessments to mean more than just scores on summative tests will benefit from the myriad options shared. From organizers to rubrics, the authors offer examples across multiple disciplines as well as tools that can be modified for different purposes, with tips on how to avoid the tricks and traps along the way.”

—Melissa Provost, MSEd, English/language arts teacher, Portsmouth Middle School, New Hampshire

“Beginning with the idea that the Latin root of assessment means 'to sit,' Wolsey, Lenski, and Grisham pull up a chair and provide readers a more humane, productive vision of teaching, learning, and, yes, assessment. Peppered with stories and strategies from other educators, Assessment Literacy pivots the conversation away from judgment about what students cannot do. Instead, it demonstrates a holistic approach informed by what students can do. This book leads us toward more sustainable, substantive assessment practices that are applicable to all literacy classrooms.”

—Troy Hicks, PhD, Department of Teacher Education and Professional Development, Central Michigan University

Assessment Literacy is that rare professional book that both enlightens and entertains. While comprehensive, it is accessible to a wide variety of preservice and inservice teachers and administrators. The book is truly a pleasure to read (when was the last time you heard that word linked to assessment?). The authors demystify assessment and empower teachers to utilize it as a meaningful tool for learning, rather than a dreaded task to endure. In an era when assessment and evaluation are sometimes used as a cudgel against, or a carrot for, teachers, this book offers a wise, compassionate view of the story that students, parents, and teachers can co-create through masterful assessment.”

—Judith Dunkerly-Bean, PhD, Elementary Education Program Director, Department of Teaching and Learning, Old Dominion University

“This book is important for all teachers, whether new teachers or veterans. It is written in conversational language and provides ideas that can be implemented in the classroom without a lot of effort. The rubrics and guides are simple to use and can be adapted to any classroom at any level (including adult education). As teachers, we need to realize how urgently our students need feedback to stay engaged, to learn, and to develop the desire to learn more. However, our feedback must be positive, relevant, and formative.”

—Paula Dreyfuss, MSEd, teacher, Vista Unified School District, California

“An easy-to-read guide to what teachers need to know about the literacy assessment process, the book is filled with examples of dialogue and models of assessment that speak directly to the preservice or practicing teacher. It builds the teacher’s knowledge about the importance of assessment used in the service of student learning. Numerous examples demonstrate how to implement meaningful formative literacy assessments that deepen learning for elementary and secondary students.”

—Linda Smetana, EdD, Department of Educational Psychology, California State University, East Bay

Table of Contents

1. Assessment Tells a Story

2. How Do I Know What to Assess? sample

3. Day-by-Day Teaching with Assessment

4. The Bond between Instruction and Assessment: The DNA of the Classroom

5. Artifacts and Tools for Assessment

6. How Do I Improve My Use of Assessment Strategies?

7. What Does This Assessment Information Mean to Me?

8. How Do I Communicate with Others about Assessment Information?

9. The Assessment Story: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future

Appendix A. Assessing the Assessments: Gathering Information and Evidence

Appendix B. Assessing the Assessments: Interpreting and Analyzing Assessment Data

Appendix C. Assessing the Assessments: Quality

Appendix D. Assessing the Assessments: Documenting and Record Keeping

Appendix E. Cumulative Feedback Table

About the Authors

Thomas DeVere Wolsey, EdD, teaches graduate courses in research, assessment, and literacy at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, and also leads professional development for teachers throughout the United States and internationally. Previously he taught English and social studies in public schools for 20 years. Dr. Wolsey is the founder of a consulting firm, the Institute to Advance International Education, and has developed training materials for the California Department of Education, TextProject, San Diego State University, and other institutions. His research explores how language informs thinking about content and how the interactions of students in digital and face-to-face environments change their learning. He is also interested in the intersections of traditional literacies with digital literacies, focusing specifically on how those literacies affect teacher preparation and professional development.

Susan Lenski, EdD, is Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Portland State University, and a former classroom teacher with 20 years of experience in kindergarten through high school. A member of the Illinois Reading Hall of Fame and a past member of the Board of Directors of the International Literacy Association, Dr. Lenski currently teaches graduate courses and conducts research on strategic reading and writing, adolescent literacy, preparing teacher candidates, and social justice education. She has published more than 65 articles and 14 books.

Dana L. Grisham, PhD, is Professor (retired) at the California State University and is noted for her research on teaching, particularly concerning the intersection of literacy and technology. She has over 80 publications, including books, book chapters, and articles in national and international journals. Dr. Grisham is a past editor of Reading and Writing Quarterly, Reading Online, and The California Reader.


Classroom teachers, literacy specialists/coaches, and other educators in K–12; teacher educators and students.

Course Use

Will serve as a supplemental text in advanced undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on literacy assessment and literacy methods.