February 21,  2020

Analyzing Assignments for Rigor and Equity

Each EmpowerED 3.2.1 features a brief summary of my musings about and learning from multiple disciplines as they apply to leadership in education.


3 Big Ideas

  1. Why look at assignments? Consider how valuable they really are. According to Keith Dasarz of Education Trust, assignments are a clear window into classroom practice and a snapshot of what teachers know and understand about standards.


  2. Assignments are an insight into expectations for what and how to teach and, as Dasarz writes, a reflection of what teachers believe students can do independently as a result of their teaching.
    See “Checking In: Are Math Assignments Measuring Up?” by Keith Dysarz.


  3. As a teacher, principal, district administrator, and university professor, I see too many over-scaffolded assignments, mis-aligned tasks, low levels of thinking, and little written application. For those reasons and more, we need to look more closely at assignments. Students (no matter the age/grade) can do no better than the assignment they are asked to do.



“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

-Maya Angelou


“Students actually are the best experts we have on the quality of education we are providing.”

-Daniel Weisberg

See “Only a Fraction of Students Consistently Get Grade-appropriate Assignments” by Linda Jacobson.


1 Question

As Tanja asked in her webinar: When you think about a memorable assignment you have had as a student, what do you remember most about it and what made it impactful?


About the Author: Marcia Baldanza is also the author of Professional Practices, a Just ASK Senior Consultant. and adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. Until recently she worked for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, where she was an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability; prior to that she was Director of Federal and State Programs.



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