Cumberland Academy

Understanding by Design – Three Key Questions on Measuring Learning

To properly assess conceptual understanding, long-term transfer, and other complex skills, we need greater use of authentic, performance-based measures in which students are asked to: 1) apply their learning to a new situation, and 2) explain their thinking, show their reasoning, or justify their conclusion.

Educators, policy makers, parents, and others interested in improving the way we measure learning in today’s schools need to examine three essential questions:

1) What really matters in a contemporary education?

2) How should we assess those things that matter?

3) How might our assessments enhance learning that matters, not just measure it?


“Maintaining high standards does not require standardization of all measures. Involving learners in creating the assessment portfolio builds students’ capacity for self-assessment.”

While there is still a place for traditional measures of knowledge and skills in an assessment photo album, greater attention must be given to gathering evidence of authentic student work through performance tasks and projects. By collecting authentic student work samples in digital portfolios, students can compile a literal “album” of growth and evidence of genuine achievements over their school career.

Three Key Questions on Measuring Learning: Jay McTighe

Understanding by Design (UbD) rests on seven tenets or core beliefs. They guide and help teachers align curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Explore this groundbreaking process of creating understanding with depth.

The Seven Key Tenets of Understanding by Design

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