Classroom assessment All the processes involved in making decisions about students’ learning progress. It’s more than just grades and tests!!
The role of assessmentThere is a cycle of planning, teaching, and assessing that insures students are learning. Plan Teach This is the cycle around which I built Assess my Educational Psychology schema (back in session 1)
Formative and summative evaluation Formative evaluation: occurs before or during instruction and is used to provide feedback to students and to monitor their growth. Summative evaluation: occurs after instruction on a given topic and is used for grading purposes.
How to remember formative vs. summative Summative happens at the end—like a summary. Formative happens while instruction is taking place (while students’ understanding is still forming).
Types of Formative Evaluation Pretest: formative test for assessing students’ knowledge, readiness, and abilities. Diagnostic test: formative test to determine students’ areas of weakness.
Why use formative assessment? If you want your lessons to be in students’ “zone of proximal development,” then you need to know what they know (pre-assess or test) or where they are misunderstanding (diagnostic test).
Why use formative assessment? If you want to know the effect of a lesson or series of lessons, then you can do a pre-test, teach the lessons, and then do a post-test in order to find out how well you taught this group of students.
Formative assessment Remember that assessment is not just tests, so you can do a “pre-test” that is not really a test. For example, music teachers can have students sight-read a new piece of music as a “pre-test.” Math teachers can have students try out a worksheet as a “pre-test.” A KWL (a collaborative chart where students tell “what they Know, what they Want to learn, and what they have Learned) can be a formative assessment.
Measurement and Evaluation Measurement: the process of gathering information about learning. Evaluation: the process of making decisions on the basis of measurements. These contribute to the planning phase of the assessment cycle.
Types of measurement Informal measurement is the process of gathering incidental information about learning progress during learning activities and discussions with students. Formal measurement is the process of systematically gathering information about learning progress. Good teachers are always “kid watching”—seeing what is going on with individual students as they participate in classroom activities. These teachers often make notes of what they observe and use this information not only in lesson planning but also in parent-teacher conferences.
Systematic assessment Students can get lost in the cracks. A quiet student sitting in the back may not attract your attention. You need to know what is going on with each student in your classroom; this is your responsibility as a teacher. You need to systematically collect assessment information on every student.
Validity This is an indicator of the extent to which an assessment actually measures what it is supposed to measure. Is the measure aligned with your goals as a teacher? Is the measure aligned with what happened in the classroom? Is the measure based on students’ abilities rather than on personality or likability?
Examples of invalid assessment Students have been learning music in major keys. The teacher tests their sight reading with a piece in a minor key. Inner city students have been learning about writing. The teacher gives them a writing prompt about “a day on a farm.” Students have been using manipulatives. The teacher gives them a test where they cannot use these aids. Learning disabled (with difficulty reading and writing) students have been learning about the Civil War. The teacher gives them a written test.If you were the teacher, how would you improve the validity in each of these situations?
Reliability A description of the extent to which measurements are consistent and free from errors of measurement. A bathroom scale is useless if it is not reliable So are measurements we use in schoolsRemember, reliability is not everything. A test of toe lengthcould be reliable but not particularly useful in the educationworld.
Reliability on teacher-made assessments Use a sufficient number of items or tasks and look for consistency of student performance across tasks. Ensure that directions are clear so students know what is expected of them. Identify specific criteria to evaluate students’ performance. Administer assessments in similar ways for all students.
Traditional Assessment Strategies Patterns of assessment Constructing tests
Getting the Most from Traditional Assessment Planning for Testing Objective Testing: multiple-choice, matching, true/false, short answer, and fill-in tests; scoring answers does not require interpretation. Essay Testing
Planning for testing When? Frequently Soon after material is learned Cumulative
Judging textbook texts Identify your objective first and then see if the textbook test helps Feel free to adapt to the realities of your class Tests from the text are less valid if you make multiple adaptations. Make sure what gets taught matches what gets tested.
Making tests Each item on a test should be valid— students who know the information should get the item right and students who do not know the information should get it wrong. In the next few slides, we will discuss some of your favorite types of test items: multiple choice, matching, true/false, completion, essays, and rubrics.
Multiple choice Multiple-choice format is a measurement format that consists of a question or statement, called a stem, and a series of answer choices. The individual responding to the items chooses the correct or best answer. Distracters: the incorrect alternatives, so-called because they are designed to distract students who don’t understand the content being measured in the item. Stem: the question part of a multiple-choice item.
Stem and distractors Stem: should pose one question or problem. Distracters: should reflect common misconceptions. Should be grammatically consistent with the stem—otherwise the grammar will give away which distracter is correct. You can assess higher-level thinking with multiple choice questions.
Matching Matching format: a measurement format that requires learners to classify a series of examples using the same alternatives. Content should be homogeneous (all material of the same type). Use more statements than alternatives so students can’t use elimination to get items right. Let students know that alternatives can be used more than once or not at all (keeps students from guessing instead of knowing). Keep the material all on one page—if you have material for more than one page, break it up into two different groups. Don’t overload students’ working memories with excessively long matching items—if you have more than ten possibilities, break the item into two.
True-false True-false format is a measurement format that includes statements of varying complexity that learners have to judge as being correct or incorrect. Don’t put both a true fact and a false fact in the same item. “Most” is a hint that the item is true. “Never” and “always” are hints that the item is false. Negative wording can be confusing.
Completion Completion format is a measurement format that includes a question or an incomplete statement that requires the learner to supply appropriate words, numbers, or symbols. It is very difficult to create completion items where only one answer is correct. These items usually measure low-level forms of thinking.
Essay Essay format is a measurement format that requires students to make extended written responses to questions or problems. They assess creative and critical thinking They measure progress students make in creating and defending thesis statements. They change how students study and learn. Scoring them is a challenge. They can be ambiguous.
Rubrics A rubric is a scoring scale that describes the criteria for grading. Rubrics help students to plan the material that will be assessed. Establish criteria based on essential elements that must be present in students’ work. Decide on number of levels of achievement for each criterion. Develop clear descriptors for each level of achievement. Determine a rating scale for entire rubric.
Commercially Prepared Test Items Carefully examine your goals before using them. Select those items that are consistent with your goals Revise items that need improvement Create additional items that help you accurately measure your students’ understanding.
Alternative Assessment Direct examination of student performance on significant tasks that are relevant to life outside of school. In other words: the assessment task is similar to or the same as tasks students would be doing in the “real world,” (as opposed to using a multiple choice test where the assessment process differs significantly from real- world performance). Performance Assessment: any form of assessment that requires students to carry out an activity or produce a product in order to demonstrate learning. PortfoliosAuthentic Assessment: assessment procedures that test skills and abilities asthey would be applied in real-life situations.
Performance Assessment A form of assessment in which students demonstrate their knowledge and skill by carrying out an activity or producing a product. Specify the type of performance. Select the focus. Structure the evaluation setting—making it realistic but practical. Design evaluation procedures
Examples of Performance Assessment Students find the area of a classroom in order to figure out how much carpet will be needed. Students write persuasive letters to the editor regarding an issue of concern to them. Students perform experiments to figure out a science problem.Pay attention to and assess not just the product the student produces but also theprocess by which students create the product.
Evaluating Performance Assessment Products/Processes Use systematic observation, the process of specifying criteria for acceptable performance on an activity and taking notes during observation based on the criteria. Checklists are written descriptions of dimensions that must be present in an acceptable performance of an activity. These help you to keep track of student performance. Rating scales are written descriptions of the evaluative dimensions of an acceptable performance of an activity and scales of values on which each dimension is rated.
Portfolios A collection of the student’s work in an area, showing growth, self-reflection, and achievement. Portfolio assessment usually involves student goal setting and showing how the items in the portfolio demonstrate the achievement of goals. Portfolios provide an ongoing idea of student work because they are a collection of items completed across several weeks.
Using Portfolios Embed portfolios in instructional practice. Refer to them frequently as you teach. Provide examples of portfolios when introducing them to students. Involve students in the selection and evaluation of their work. Require students to provide an overview of each portfolio, a rationale for the inclusion of individual works, criteria they used to evaluate, and a summary of progress. Provide students with frequent and detailed feedback about their decisions.
Portfolios across the curriculum Portfolios began in art. Professional freelance artists develop portfolios of their work to show potential employers. The first book on the use of portfolios (Tierney, Carter, and Desai, 1991, Portfolios in the Reading/Writing Classroom) focused on the use of portfolios to show students’ literacy development. Portfolios can also be used in other subjects. Students can collect a variety of artifacts to demonstrate their developing knowledge and skills. With technology, portfolios can be digitized and they can feature a wide range of formats. Where possible (e.g., in music programs where the teacher has the same students across several years) it would be very useful to have portfolios that span several years and show student improvement.
Exhibition A performance test or demonstration of learning that is public and usually takes an extended time to prepare. Examples: a music recital, an art exhibit, a project that is presented to a class.
Evaluating alternative assessments Use a scoring rubric: rules that are used to determine the quality of a student performance. Students can contribute to the rubric. When they do so, they often “buy into” the process of assessment. Assessment can also include a student component—students should learn to assess themselves.
Reliability, validity, generalizability Alternative assessments may not be reliable—two different teachers may give a portfolio very different grades. Even validity may be a problem—there’s not a lot of research that is helpful yet.
Diversity and equityProfessional orchestras used to be all male (except for the harpist, for someodd reason). In order to counter this, orchestras began having blindauditions—potential members tried out for the orchestra behind a screen.This practice has led to a greater amount of diversity in orchestras.
Diversity and equity In terms of exhibition-type assessments, subtle “-isms” can creep in when it is impossible to judge work apart from the person who does the work. It is important to keep this in mind when making judgments on students’ work. Also, it is important to remember what students have access to at home in terms of the ability to work. Some students have a lot of support at home for their schoolwork (a computer, a private space for working, social support for doing homework, etc.) and other students do not. If there is a lot of out-of-class work that goes into a portfolio or an exhibition, one needs to keep these potential inequities in mind.
Informal assessments Ungraded (formative) assessments that gather information from multiple sources to help teachers make decisions. Good teachers are constantly observing students and making informal assessments of student understanding. Other ways to do informal assessment: student journals, “exit tickets” where students answer a question in writing before they leave the classroom, checklists, rating scales, etc.
Self-assessment Alternative assessment can be just as dumb and alienating as testing if it is carried out in the wrong spirit. Most of the proponents of alternative assessment call for student involvement in assessment.
Self-assessment Truly, involving students makes sense; in the world of work, we often have to assess ourselves. This is part of taking initiative. We can’t simply wait for the annual review.
Student-Led Conferences: A Growing Trend For years parent-teacher conferences have been the primary means of parent-teacher communication. But now, many schools are trying something new -- student-led conferences that communicate not only how a students doing but also why. Parent-teacher conferences -- we all know how they go. Parents troop into classrooms to talk with teachers about their childrens progress in school. Often, the process feels rushed, and parents leave feeling vaguely dissatisfied, as if they didnt really get what they came for. For years that process has been the norm, but now it is changing. In more and more schools, students are leading conferences, and, overall, the word is that theyre doing a fine job. http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin112.shtml
Student-Led Conferences: A Growing Trend Many teachers themselves speak enthusiastically of the advantages of student-led conferences over teacher-led ones. "We found the [student-led] conferences most beneficial," said Keith Eddinger of the Marcus Whitman Middle School in Rushville, New York. "From a teachers perspective, we were able to get a better picture of each child. It forced us to sit down with each student and review strengths and weaknesses. This conversation often told us the students learned more than perhaps we had measured through conventional assessments." Eddinger added, "Our post-conference reviews with parents and students were overwhelmingly positive." John Osgood, of C. L. Jones Middle School in Minden, Nebraska, found that "comments [about student-led conferences] from parents and board members were very positive." http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin112.shtml
Student-Led Conferences: A Growing Trend Another staff member, Dick Philips, said, "Most parents listened to their child. It was interesting listening to [children] explain low grades to their parents. It did open the lines of communication." "Several parents really liked it because it gave them an opportunity to see their childs work," said Sue Yant, another staff member. Yet "some [parents] said they hoped we [would hold] the traditional conference once a year." http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin112.shtml
Student-Led Conferences: A Growing Trend STUDENT PREPARATION "The format is important, but I believe the success of a student-led conference is most determined by how well students are prepared," wrote Laura Hayden, a seventh-grade communications teacher at Derby Middle School in Derby, Kansas, in Letting Students Lead Parent Conferences, an article published by the National Association of Elementary School Principals in Middle Matters. The conference format at Haydens school had students show parents some of their work and explain their grades in a student-led conference. Each team could conduct conferences a bit differently. Haydens team used an open house arrangement in which students and parents visited all team members classrooms, but other teams held the entire conference in one classroom. The significance of format aside, Hayden focused her students on preparation. At the beginning of the school year, she had students set up a binder to contain a portfolio as well as graded work. She explained that students had to keep their binders orderly because they would use them to lead their conferences. http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin112.shtml
Student-Led Conferences: A Growing Trend A week before the conferences, Haydens team sent home a letter informing parents of the conference and the fact that their child would lead it. About three days before conferences, she had students prepare portfolios of their work to date, including a special project, a quiz, a homework assignment, and one assignment from which they felt they had learned the most. Students also wrote a reflection on their grades and study habits. They set goals for the next semester and organized their graded work section. The day before conferences, teachers role-played, pretending to be the student, with the student playing the teacher or the parent. Teachers modeled, for example, how to explain a poor grade to parents, and they gave students a checklist of what to cover in the conference. http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin112.shtml
Student-Led Conferences: A Growing Trend STUDENT RESPONSIBILITY "The preparatory time is worth it," Hayden wrote, "especially when you hear a struggling student explaining what he or she learned from an assignment and taking responsibility for the score he or she achieved." "[Students] need to understand that they are in control of their own efforts to learn the material," said Barbara Rommel, superintendent of the David Douglas School District in Oregon. (Source: "New Method Puts Student in Charge," an article published in the Oregonian newspaper.) The Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century requires students to meet higher standards. By having students assess how they are progressing toward those standards, educators say, students will know how far theyve come and how far they have to go to meet the standards. "It helps them accept responsibility for their learning," said Patti Kinney, principal of Talent Middle School in Oregon. "I like being able to tell my side of the story," Josh Whitney-Wise of Milwaukie, Oregons, McLoughlin Middle School told the Oregonian. http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin112.shtml
Student-Led Conferences: A Growing Trend ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES Educators acknowledge that there are disadvantages as well as advantages to student-led conferences. Although parent attendance seems higher for student-led conferences than for teacher-led ones, a parents failure to attend a student-led conference leads to a great deal of disappointment for a student who has worked hard to prepare. Another disadvantage is that some parents want to spend more time with their childs teacher, receiving his or her viewpoint. Nearly all schools with student-led conferences will let parents make separate appointments to confer with teachers. For the most part, parents support the concept of student-led conferences, though some support them with slight reservations. "My daughter was in a class that did student-led conferences a couple of years ago," said one parent of a child at Jones Middle School. "I think the object was to make the child feel a part of the whole process, to get them in tune with their own progress. … As a parent, I felt like I still needed some info from the teachers and wanted more. … But I do think the student gets a new perspective on their grades. … Personally, I dont think it would be good to do this often, but once a year is good. When you ask if they were beneficial, I can say yes and no. They were more beneficial to the student than to the parent." http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin112.shtml
Student-Led Conferences: A Growing Trend But the advantages, say most teachers who have participated in student-led conferences, outweigh the downside. Student accountability is mentioned again and again by educators as a plus for student-led conferences. Another plus is the way even a struggling student can produce something positive for a conference, an art project or an essay, perhaps, that wouldnt show up in a report card grade. Overall, talks with educators indicate, student-led conferences are a growing trend. http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin112.shtml
Traditional vs. alternative assessments Traditional Alternative Tends to be low-level Tends to be higher level (memorization rather than thinking) Has real world application May not apply to “real Reveals process as well world.” as product Measure outcome rather Based on constructivism than process Harder to implement Based on behaviorism Less reliable Easier to implement Should involve students Reliable in goal setting and Does not involve students assessment
What to do? Students have to learn to deal with standardized assessment, as that is the gatekeeper to college and many careers. (How many standardized tests have you taken across your school experiences? How many more will you have to take to achieve your educational and career goals?) Yet students also need opportunities to demonstrate skills and abilities that multiple choice testing fails to assess. Good teachers make judicious use of both forms of assessment.
A personal take on standardized assessment When I applied to get a Ph.D., the department to which I applied required the GRE. At the time, I was working for a leader in the area of alternative assessment and I therefore was very much aware of the criticisms of standardized testing. I decided that I needed to take a stand on the GRE.
So… I went to the library and in about 30 minutes I had a small array of research articles that showed that the GRE is biased and that the Educational Testing Service has a checkered past (it was founded by eugenicists—people who shared some of Hitler’s ideas about race). I wrote a letter to the department that stated that it was against my principles to support something that was biased and to pay money to ETS. I said that I would be willing to provide a portfolio of my writing for them to assess.
What happened next… The department wrote back and said that they would accept my principled stand against ETS and would review my materials without the GRE. They also said that they would also consider waiving the GRE requirement for any other potential student who had the same concerns (this was OSU, Dept. of English, in case you are interested in testing this out).
But then… All during my teaching, I refused to have anything to do with standardized testing and the kind of teaching that supports it. My idea of being a teacher who made a difference in people’s lives was through using whole language and other student- centered approaches. Then I volunteered for a year at an African American Christian school, where the point of the school was to make differences in students’ lives. The principal there explained that since the Proficiency Test in Ohio was a gatekeeper, one that has been biased against her students, she felt the best thing to do was to prepare students as best she could to beat the gate.An example of bias on the Ohio proficiency test: a few years ago, one of the writingprompts was about taking a camping trip. Urban teachers were frustrated—many oftheir students had never traveled more than a few miles from home, much less had theexperience of being in the wilderness and setting up a tent.
So… This altered my teaching profoundly. As much as I dislike ETS, I have learned that it is my job as a teacher to prepare my students to beat the gate. It is also my job to speak up against ETS and its biases. I can simultaneously be an advocate for alternative assessment and prepare my students for the realities they will face. I can also let my students know that as voters, citizens, and students, they can influence state and federal laws and university practices that allow ETS its monopoly on assessment.
Effective Assessment Practices: Instructional Strategies Plan systematically Prepare students Administer assessments under optimal conditions Analyze results to make sure assessments are accurate and valid
Planning for Assessment Make sure assessment is in line with goals.
Preparing students for assessment Give students opportunities to practice assessment procedures. Help students with test-taking strategies. Give students strategies to reduce anxiety. When using a test, give students practice with the type of item that will be on the test.The above is what your book says. Here are my 2 cents. Consider using tests forcurricular items that will be tested through state and locally-mandated tests. You areusing your tests to help students practice for the BIG test. Use non-testing means ofassessing everything, as well, for two reasons: 1. tests are anxiety-producing and oftenrequire and reflect low-level thinking. They turn struggling and bored students off fromlearning. Well-planned alternative assessment is interesting and engaging. 2. manystudents do not do well on tests, so you really have no idea if they are learning or notunless you do some kind of alternative assessment. If they know the material but still donot perform well on standardized-style testing, then you know you need to teach test-taking strategies.
Test-Taking Strategies Use time efficiently and pace yourself Read directions carefully Identify the important information in questions Understand the demands of different testing formats Find out how the questions will be scored.Oh, boy. If only it were that simple. If you are good at taking tests, this list would affirmand summarize what you know, but if you struggle, this list is worthless. Please look atthe powerpoint and the word file on test taking strategies for better information.
Reducing Test Anxiety Test anxiety is a relatively stable, unpleasant reaction to testing situations that lowers performance. Symptoms: increased pulse rate, dry mouth, headache, feeling of dread and/or helplessness, going blank, worry about failure.
Reducing Test Anxiety: strategies for teachers Use criterion-referenced measures to minimize the competitive aspects of tests (these measure student against material to be learned rather than student against student). Avoid social comparisons, such as public displays of test scores and grades Increase frequency of quizzes and tests Discuss test content and procedures before testing Give clear directions, and ensure that students understand the test format and requirements Teach test-taking skills Use a variety of measures, including alternative assessments, to measure the range of students’ understanding and skills Provide students with ample time to take tests
More strategies (not in your book) Think about: what will make it possible for this student to succeed (really succeed in demonstrating his/her knowledge, really succeed in learning how to deal with testing)? You may need to break the process of testing down for some students—for instance, if the proficiency test is mostly multiple-choice, then work with them only on multiple-choice (in your tests), showing them how to analyze the questions. They may need lots of practice in this area. You could create multiple-choice homework. This is a lot of work, but it is what is necessary for students to succeed. You may need to reteach critical information to your struggling students. This means figuring out how to manage a review of information for one or two students while other students work on other things.
Specific test preparation procedures Specify what will be on the test Give students a chance to practice test- like items under test-like conditions Establish positive expectations
Administering Tests Make environment comfortable and free from distractions Give precise directions about what students need to do and what will happen (especially, what early finishers should do to avoid distracting late finishers) Monitor students while they are taking the test
Analyzing results Grade tests quickly so you can give feedback to students as soon as possible Go over items that several people missed and reteach information that was clearly not understood
Analyzing results Research shows that if students are told they did well on a test, then they will tend to do better the next time. Be positive. (This is also an argument for setting students up for success). Note on your copy of the test any problems with questions or wording that was unclear. That way you can edit the test for next time.
Reducing bias in testing Carefully wording items Making provisions for non-native English speakers Accommodating diversity in scoring
Carefully wording items Think about what the students do know and have experience with and use that as much as possible. For instance, you can use school experiences that you know students have had instead of home experiences that only some students have had. “Tanisha has three pencils and Lamar has two. How many pencils do they have together?” rather than “Bob has a DVD player, a CD player, and an I-pod. How many pieces of equipment does he have?” (Okay, so I know the examples are lame, but hopefully you get the idea).
Making provisions for non-native speakers Modify test Modify test procedure Simplify test language Provide extra time to take Simplify test directions test Provide visual supports Allow students to use a Assess students in their glossary and dictionary native language Read directions aloud (in native language would be better) Read test aloud and clarify misunderstandings These provisions would also work for students with learning disabilities.
Accommodating diversity in scoring Multiple-trait scoring: different dimensions of a product are judged according to different criteria. For example, grade an essay on both content and grammatical conventions or break down a task into three important characteristics and score for each one.
Grading and Reporting: the total assessment system What types of assessment will be used? How will you use traditional assessment? How will you use authentic assessment? How will you deal with homework? How will you deal with missed work? How do you represent affective dimensions (cooperation, effort) in your assessment plan? How will you report student performance (grade, percentage, description)?
Designing a grading system Your system needs to be clear and understandable and in line with district/school policies Your system should support learning by gathering frequent data on students’ learning Grades should be based on hard data Grades should be fair to all students You should be able to defend your system to parents & administrators
A comment from me… Just remember that evaluations not only tell you what is going on with your students but they are also potentially evaluations of your teaching. If everyone fails to answer a question correctly, then it is possible that you failed to teach the concept clearly. If everyone does well on an evaluation, then give yourself a pat on the back when you give the students a pat on the back.
Other assessments Tests and quizzes Alternative assessments HomeworkYou need to think about the role each of these plays in your classroom.How constructive are these as activities? How do they contribute to yourunderstanding of students’ performances? How do they contribute toyour planning of lessons from day to day? How motivational are theseactivities? Are any of these activities a barrier to student learning? It’shelpful to think about your own experiences in relation to these. Underwhat conditions did these forms of assessment seem to work? When didthey not work?
Assigning grades Grades can be motivating or demotivating The challenge is to figure out how to reduce the complexity of a student into a single letter. What grade do you give the bright student who puts out minimal effort? What grade do you give a student who works very hard but has difficulty learning the material?
My opinion… I think a lot about grades. Your grade in this class may influence your future: a good grade will help you to get into graduate school and a bad grade may be a barrier to your career goals. At the same time, if you don’t learn the material of this class, it’s not fair to the students who do learn the material for you to get a good grade. I try to think about what the barriers are for learning and how I can remove them. This is why I have tried to create materials to assist different kinds of learners. I have tried to make learning the easiest thing to choose to do. I feel if I have removed barriers as much as possible, then if a student chooses not to learn, I can apply the consequences of that. I have also tried to create assessments that give every student a chance to demonstrate their knowledge. Every year that I teach, I revamp my courses, often after considering the issue of grades and assessment. I’m sure this course will look different after a few more times of my teaching it. I share this with you hoping you will share this journey with me of constantly analyzing and trying to improve one’s teaching. It is an exciting journey and in all the years I have taught, I have never gotten tired of it.
Failure Failure is the nemesis of the self-esteem movement. Yet, in order to appreciate and understand success, we need to experience failure.
Failure Some parents cannot stand for their children to fail. Unfortunately, parents cannot control what happens to their adult children—and a certain amount of failure helps young people learn to cope with adult problems.
Failure is positive when… …students have the possibility of learning from it. …when it helps students to take responsibility for their own actions and choices. …when its consequences are significant for the student but not horribly life- changing.
Failure Remember—allowing students to experience and cope with small failures can prevent large failures later on. Allowing a student to deal with the consequences of not studying by failing an assignment is a lot better than giving a student a false message of success and then the student fails something large later on (Ohio Graduation Test, for example).
The work ethicNo matter what kind of work people do, they needa work ethic.
The work ethic People need to know how to work without supervision. They need to know how to take initiative and solve problems without direction. They need to be trustworthy. They need to take responsibility for their actions. They need to know how to work hard. They need to know how to motivate themselves to work even when the work is not fun or interesting.
How schools can help students develop a work ethic It should take work to succeed in a classroom. The work should be do-able but it should be challenging. This means that students with struggles should have tasks that are challenging for them and students who are gifted should have tasks that are challenging for them. No one should get a free ride. Students should face consequences for not doing work. Students should be given strategies for working, particularly when they are struggling with self-discipline. When a student fails, the student should be given the message to try again and support for doing so. This support includes problem-solving techniques to figure out why the failure happened and what can be done to prevent it in the future.
Feedback Providing constructive feedback to students is probably one of the most useful things for student learning you can do as a teacher – and most likely to be appreciated by students. Feedback is an integral part of all teaching not just assessment. Feedback is constructive observations and suggestions on work done, skills acquired, emerging capabilities, ideas for directing further learning. Clearly these can be provided throughout a learning program. Feedback can be provided by peers and others not just the teachers. So, for example, in a lecture you could ask a question, give time for students to write a brief response (2-3 minutes) then discuss with their peers, before you discuss features of the question. Feedback is not just about weaknesses. Students will respond if you are encouraging as well as allowing of mistakes. Positive feedback on the capabilities they have demonstrated helps establish a culture where students seek feedback and take greater active ownership over their learning. Feedback is a starting point for learning – not just confirmation for the students that they were right or wrong. In particular, students will appreciate advice which helps them discover and address their weaknesses. It is best seen as a trigger for active learning and therefore feedback can be challenging, questioning, widening. Clearly timing is important to the value of feedback. It is vital to get constructive comments back to students as soon as possible as part of student learning tasks. Consider too, a wider view of feedback: helping my students taking stock of what and how they are learning in a timely manner - to help them take constructive steps forward. It is particularly useful for formative assessment activities or during a drafting or development process. In summary, feedback is about students learning to self-evaluate, helping them to take greater ownership of their learning and increasing the likelihood that they will come to direct their own learning. http://www.lts.rmit.edu.au/renewal/assess/faq3.htm
Feedback This is the great violin teacher, Shinichi Suzuki. One of the revolutions in music teaching he created is the idea of being positive with children. Before correcting a student’s performance, Suzuki said that the teacher had to find something positive to say to the student about his or her performance. It’s amazing how much more motivated students are when their efforts are recognized and feedback is given with the clear purpose of helping the student to improve.
Teacher: judge or advocate?The right to assess can either be used as a means of judgment or it can beused as a means to help students to improve their skills and abilities. Doyour best to be an advocate for students—to use your skills and abilities tohelp them to learn and to grow.
Grading Norm-referenced grading: assessment of students’ achievement in relation to one another. Criterion-referenced grading: assessment of each student’s mastery of the course objectives. Grading on the curve: norm-referenced grading that compares students’ performance to an average level. (This is one version of norm- referenced grading).
Norm-referenced grading Grading on a curve assumes that a classroom is going to be like a large population: some people will do well, some people will fail, and most people will do average.F D C B ANorm-referenced grading (of any variety) assumes that only acertain percentage of the class will do well. A’s (and the positivemessage that accompanies a high grade) are a limited commodity.
Norm-referenced gradingBut if we are to “Leave No Child Behind” and but our grading systemis based on a certain percentage of the class failing, then isn’t theresomething wrong here?
Criterion-referenced grading The answer is to grade on mastery of the material rather than comparisons of one student to another. In this class, if you master the material, you can receive an A. If all of you master the material, then I will be really happy.
Percentage grading System of converting class performances to percentage scores and assigning grades based on predetermined cutoff points. This is the “90-100% is an A” type grading system. The main problem is: which 80% of math is it okay to learn and which 20% is it not okay to learn? What is 80% of 8th grade math? This system does not lead to mastery of the material except for the folks who get A’s.
Contract system System in which each student works for a particular grade according to agreed-upon standards. In this system, the student has a lot of control. You have to, as a teacher, figure out how to create a contract you can live with. This includes clearly-understood quality measures so you don’t end up giving high grades that are not really deserved. Rubrics can help you and students to deal with quality of work issues.
Revise option In a contract system, the chance to revise and improve work. Actually, this is a good policy to have. If a student writes a poor paper and has a chance to rewrite, a valuable learning process can take place. This is part of mastery learning.
Grading on effort and improvement When you include effort and improvement in your grading system, you can challenge all students. A very bright student who doesn’t put much effort into anything should not get a stellar grade—this experience does not help the student to develop a work ethic.
Individual learning expectation Personal average score. One way to give points for improvement is to award extra points to students who do better on a test or homework than their personal average.
Halo effect Did you ever notice how some kids, no matter what they did, NEVER got in trouble? Other kids, no matter how they behaved were always in trouble. This is the halo effect: the tendency for a general impression of a person to influence our perception of any aspect of that person.The halo effect leads to unjustified grading practices. Watch out for it.
Grade pollution If your directions weren’t clear and a bunch of students therefore did badly on a project, that’s grade pollution. If a student had poor reading skills and your math test involved a lot of reading, that’s grade pollution. Anything that “muddies” the relationship between the student’s learning and the grade is pollution.Stop Grade Pollution!!! You don’t like it and neither will your students.
Communicating with parents Don’t wait until something bad happens to get in touch with parents. Try to find reasons to make a positive phone call for each student.
Communicating with parents Document why you are giving the grades you are giving. Your documentation is your justification. Be sure you document behavioral information that leads to your grades for deportment.
Documentation: A Reminder When you document a student’s behavior, describe the behavior as exactly as possible, using non-judgmental terms. “Sam was running in circles around the classroom, shouting obscenities, and waving his arms” is far more specific than “Sam was acting crazy.” “Crazy” is a judgment on your part. A parent will be more likely to accept the first description because it is specific and nonjudgmental.
Communicating with parentsMost of the time, if you havemade an effort to communicatewith parents when positivethings happen, if youdemonstrate that you careabout each student, and if youshare not only what yourgrades for a student are butWHY (including showingexamples of student work),parents will accept yourassessment and will work withyou to help the studentimprove.
Communicating with parents Once in awhile, you get a parent who is not going to be reasonable. This person may have mental health issues going on, may be overly involved in his/her student’s life, may be under a lot of psychological stress for some reason or other, may have had negative experiences with school him or herself, or just may be an unpleasant person in general.
Communicating with parents If you have a negative conference with a parent, immediately tell your supervisor (before the parent can call your supervisor). Ask your supervisor to help you plan future conferences— you may want to have someone from the school administration present for future conferences. Keep careful documentation on this student so you can let your supervisor know what you are doing with the student and why.
Technology and assessment Technology can be used in planning and constructing tests. Test software can help you to analyze test results. Software is helpful for maintaining student records.
Technology and authentic assessment Technology holds great promise for authentic assessment. With scanning equipment, students can create and keep their materials on electronic media (CD’s). They can also create materials using the vast possibilities on the computer (powerpoint, movie maker, etc.). Because of the ease of storage, student portfolios could potentially span several years of their schooling. Samples of student work across multiple years not only demonstrate student progress but they also help to reveal the areas of interest a student has developed and maintained across the years.