Peer-Assessment in Action

Today a group of colleagues and I got together to determine our next steps at The Core Collaborative. Prior to the meeting we had already determined criteria for success in working with educational leaders, teacher leaders and students in the schools and districts we are learning with.

We talked about what criteria we had met, what criteria we were close to meeting, and what criteria we clearly needed some guidance in helping us to reach our goal. It was clear we needed some expertise in some areas that we needed to grow our learning in. We brainstormed a list of things we could do to grow our knowledge base and also determined what actionable steps we could all take to reach our ultimate goals. We were utilizing “peer assessment” the whole time! We learned more as a result of the feedback we were giving each other because in collaborating we all became clearer on how to achieve the goal. We gained clarity surrounding the success criteria!

Measures of Successful Learning

  1. We measure successful learning using a variety of indicators:
  2. The student’s awareness of how she/he learns
  3. Mastering the success criteria of a standards based task
  4. The ability of the student to monitor his/her learning
  5. The ability of a student to persevere in the learning and,
  6. The ability of a student to work in a team successfully. What other indicators could be used to measure successful learning?

Peer-assessment is a useful strategy in supporting the ultimate goal of successful, increased learning.

The Power of the Peer

The power of the peer is underutilized in our classrooms! We can leverage our students to give effective feedback if we teach them how to effectively give feedback according to the success criteria of the task/standard(s). In the schools across the country in which we engage students in peer-assessment, the peer-to-peer feedback has a positive effect on the learning of all students involved.


  • When Student A gives feedback to student B
  • Student A also benefits because his/her own attempt at that same work is improved
  • Both students are clearer about the success criteria and what “proficient work” looks like.

What IS Peer Assessment?

Peer assessment is simply a matter of students giving informed feedback to one another on an assignment. Effective peer assessment is related to clear standards and is supported by a constructive process of critique. Peer assessment is a valuable tool because feedback from peers can be delivered with more immediacy and in greater volume than teacher feedback. Peer assessment should happen during the learning process, on works-in-progress, and be followed by opportunities for students to use the feedback they received to revise their work.

What Peer Assessment is NOT?

Peer assessment is NOT a process by which peers determine grades for one another. Peers provide feedback; teachers provide grades.

Check out these 7 Steps to Peer Assessment Success:

  1. Construct Success Criteria: The PLC or Impact Team determines the success criteria on which the assignment or assessment will be assessed. (see previous blog on Learning Intentions and Success Criteria. The success criteria must be aligned to the standard(s). The teacher ensures criteria is clear before the Peer Assessment begins.
  2. Collaborative Group Work: Teacher groups two to four students based on ability level. The teacher can also group students strategically based on classroom culture.
  3. Feedback: The teacher models effective feedback based on the success criteria. Feedback may be in the form of: clarifying questions, what he or she values about the work, concerns, and suggestions (not mandates)
  4. Create Checklists: Students take notes on effective feedback and create a checklist to ensure proper feedback is given. The Ladder of Feedback works well!
  5. Coach for Success: The teacher monitors the groups of students during the peer assessment and coaches each group based on their ability to give effective feedback. The teacher names the groups of students that are doing well, and gives pointers based on group need.
  6. Check for Reliability: Teacher compares his/her feedback to feedback given during group work. Feedback is then given to students based on the effectiveness of the Peer Assessment
  7. Revise: Students revise their assessment based on feedback. Students then set learning goals based on their next steps for learning.

Why Employ Peer-Assessment?

Peer-assessment has multiple benefits. Peer-assessment can:

  • Empower students to take responsibility for, and manage, their own learning.
  • Enable students to learn to assess and to develop life-long assessment/learning skills.
  • Enhance students’ learning through knowledge diffusion and exchange of ideas.
  • Motivate students to engage with material more deeply.

Interesting Resources

As I was researching for this blog I ran across this wonderful video from Dylan William. Listen to Dylan William review the benefits of self and peer assessment. Click here to see the video.

Also, chapter 7 in Margaret Heritage’s book, Formative Assessment: Making it Happen in the Classroom has an informative section on Peer Assessment. Click here to purchase the book.

Works Cited:

(Topping, Keith, 2010). “Peers as a Source of Formative Assessment.” In Heidi Andrade & Gregory Cizek, eds. Handbook of Formative Assessment. New York, NY: Routledge.

(Perkins. David,2003). King Arthur’s Round Table: How Collaborative Conversations Create Smart Organizations. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

(Heidi Andrade, Kristen Huff, & Georgia Brooke, 2012). Assessing Learning: The Students at the Center Series. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future.