Saturday / April 13

Measuring Success with Peer Assessment

Peer Assessment in Action

When I think of Peer Assessment, I think of the typical interactions I have with colleagues when we are planning our next steps in the schools that we serve. Prior to our meeting, we determine the success criteria. Success criteria are the standards by which our project will be judged at the end to decide if we have been successful. We don’t start out with defining our failures; we name and speak about the criteria of success.

As our meeting progresses, we check in with each other. We discuss what criteria we have met and our next steps based on the criteria. At the end of the meeting, we summarize our actions and determine what our next steps are based on the success criteria that we still need to work on. Then, we brainstorm 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 goal. The entire meeting we are actually engaging in peer assessment! We learn more as a result of the feedback we were giving to 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

We measure successful learning using a variety of indicators:

  1. The student’s awareness of how she/he learns
  2. Mastering the success criteria of a standards-based task
  3. The ability of the student to monitor his/her learning
  4. The ability of a student to persevere in the learning
  5. 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.

7 Steps for 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… The success criteria must be aligned to the standard(s). The teacher ensures that the criteria are correctly aligned and clear before the Peer Assessment process begins.
  1. Collaborative Group Work: Teacher groups two to four students based on ability level. The teacher can also group students strategically based on classroom culture.
  1. 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)
  1. Create Checklists:Students take notes on effective feedback and create a checklist to ensure proper feedback is given. The Ladder of Feedback works well!
  1. 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.
  1. 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. This is done to lift the level of the peer assessment process.
  1. Revise:Students revise their assessment based on feedback. Students then set learning goals based on their next step 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 the exchange of ideas. Peer assessment motivates 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.

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.

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

Written by

Paul Bloomberg is an experienced school improvement coach and trainer who has transformed districts through coaching, professional development and curriculum support.

Paul is the co-author of the forthcoming book Leading Impact Teams: Building a Culture of Efficacy.

Schedule an on-site or virtual consultation, seminar, or workshop with Paul today!

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