At Rowen, we believe that a key goal of learning is fluent and flexible transfer of discrete knowledge and skills. We believe the curriculum should be built upon the two essential elements of understanding: big ideas and transfer tasks. Traditional assessments, including standardized tests, often measure discrete knowledge and skills and lower-ordered cognitive processes, but not enduring understandings and performance on complex tasks that demand transfer.
For example, in mathematics, we want students to quantify and solve perplexing real-world problems. In history, we want students to construct valid and insightful narratives of evidence and argument. In language arts, we want students to successfully write for specific and demanding audiences and purposes. If we want to measure students’ ability to transfer discrete knowledge and skills, then we must design assessments that provide evidence that students really understand and can apply their learning. We design performance-based assessments called cornerstone assessments to accomplish this task of assessing understanding and transfer. Our students complete two cornerstone assessments each year.
To view a example of one of our cornerstone assessments, please click here.