Standard 5 Assessment: Assesses students’ mastery of curriculum and modifies instruction to maximize learning.
My Past Experience
At the beginning of the course, Standards-Based Assessment, I reflected on my previous experience with assessment in the classroom. I used the five keys to quality classroom assessment: clear purpose, clear targets, sound design, effective communication, and student involvement (Chappuis, Stiggins, Chappuis, & Arter, 2012) to determine my familiarity with how to use effective assessment to improve student learning. Establishing a clear purpose for assessment and using formative assessment to determine next steps for instruction were both strengths in my instructional design. Goals for growth included involving students in the assessment process. My goal was to provide opportunities for students to self-assess and track their progress so they could communicate their learning and celebrate success. Although I felt confident in establishing clear learning targets, I did not have a lot of experience with identifying the 4 types of assessments (selected response, written response, performance assessment, and personal communication) and making decisions about which assessment would accurately identify students’ learning needs.
My Present Experience- Important Learning from EDU 6613
Differentiating Formative and Summative Assessment
Throughout this course, I have learned multiple types of assessment and have a clearer understanding of how assessment can be used as formative or summative. Establishing clear learning targets and aligning pre-assessments, formative assessments, and summative assessments is an ongoing process to ensure that the assessment serves its purpose. Chappuis et al. (2012) state, “Assessment is not a singular noun referring to an individual test or task, but refers to an ongoing process that is interwoven with instruction” (p. 9).
Formative assessment (“Assessment for Learning”)- used to determine what areas students need support with as the lesson progresses so modifications can be made to instruction before the lesson continues. Chappuis et al. (2012) states, “Decisions made day to day in the classroom based on evidence gathered from classroom activities and assessments, are intended to support student learning- to help students learn more” (p. 4).
In order to use formative assessment as a tool to improve student learning, it must provide teachers with information that allows the teacher to understand students’ level of understanding. It should help teachers determine students’ specific needs or misconceptions so they can differentiate instruction to meet each individual need.
Summative assessment (“Assessment of Learning”)- used to measure students’ achievement at the end of the lesson.
Involving Students in the Assessment Process
“Opportunities for students to express their understanding should be designed into any piece of teaching, for this will initiate the interaction through which formative assessment aids learning” (Chappuis et al., 2012, p. 22).
Self-assessment before, during, and after the lesson can help keep students focused on the learning target so students understand the purpose of the learning activities. Students should be provided with a clear and understandable vision of the learning target, regular descriptive feedback, opportunities to self-assess and set goals, and lessons that focus on one learning target (Chappuis et al., 2012, p. 148-153). Involving students in the assessment process provides many benefits that allow students to take ownership of their learning. O’Connor (2009) states, “Student involvement in determining criteria and then judging their work using these criteria achieves several things at once; it gives students more control of their education, it makes evaluation feel less punitive, and it provides an important learning experience in itself” (p. 189).
- Rubrics- establish clear learning targets, describes levels of performance, checkpoints throughout the lesson
- Checklists- determine level of understanding
- Exit Slips- demonstrate knowledge of target, ask questions, explain misunderstandings
- Reflections- assess progress made, what has been learned, steps for improvement
- Goal-setting- set goals for specific learning targets, determine next steps to meet goals
- Students can be involved in creating criteria and assessing their own work.
- Teachers can determine performance standards to determine reference points or “how good is good enough?.”
- Standards should be based on criterion, tacit knowledge, written description, or key examples.
- Teachers can determine the levels of student performance and present it in written description so it is clear to the students.
- Teachers can provide examples of various levels of work.
(O’Connor, 2009, p. 65-66)
“Assessment methods should closely match with the kind of learning target to be assessed and the intended use of the information” (Chappuis et al., 2012, p. 89).
Selected Response- students select the correct response
Teachers can use a blueprint or map to:
- help students use the results to improve achievement.
- outline the learning content prior to instruction.
- help students assess their understanding along the way.
- summarize learning by identifying the targets that have been taught.
- give closure to a lesson by summarizing the learning target.
Written Response– assesses knowledge and reasoning targets, allows teachers to not only determine if students know the correct answer, but also how students know.
Teachers can use rubrics to:
- provide information about how students will be evaluated.
- prepare the student to be successful in providing a complete response.
- provide the teacher with a better assessment of what the student knows.
Performance Assessment- used to judge demonstrations, products, or artifacts that students create
Teachers can use rubrics to:
- to be clear about what quality work looks like.
- determine the quality of students’ responses.
- to show samples of different levels of work.
- to help teachers give feedback on specific criterion.
Personal Communication- what students have learned through structured and unstructured interactions
Teachers can use strategies to assess individual understanding by:
- asking questions before calling on a student so all students have to think about a response.
- using random drawing (popsicle sticks) so all students have a chance of being selected to answer a question.
- having students discuss thinking in pairs or groups.
- giving students a choice of possible answers or using whole class response (whiteboards).
- having all students write a response and share with class.
(Chappuis et al., 2012, p. 268-269)
“Learning is an ongoing process and that what matters is how much learning occurs, not when it occurs” (O’Connor, 2009,p. 138).
In my classroom, students receive several opportunities to achieve learning targets. Grades are not used as punishment for incomplete or missing work. However, assignments and work samples do serve as formative assessment for determining students’ learning needs. If students are not producing quality work or do not turn in assignments it is difficult to assess their understanding. Therefore, students are required to complete missing assignments at home or during their recess time. Instead of giving zeroes, students will have opportunities to set goals for improvement and make up assignments. The goal is that this will help students make progress, improve student learning, and motivate students to take responsibility for their learning. Attendance and behavior are scored separately and student grades are based on their current level of achievement. Students are sent home with missing work on Fridays attached to their weekly self-assessments with a missing work slip (MIssingWorkSlip). Work that doesn’t get complete at home is done in the classroom during students’ recess time. The grading policy is described on the missing work slip and is explained to parents at the Open House, in the beginning of the year information packet, and at conference times.
Communicating Grades and Assessment Results
In order for students and parents to understand students’ academic progress and to have an accurate picture of their level of achievement, communication must take various forms. According to O’Connor (2009), “Grades are merely symbols; to provide real information, they should be seen as only a part-probably a very small part-of our communication system” (p. 219). Teachers can share formative assessments to show student progress and summative assessments to show current levels of understanding. Students can also be involved in sharing their progress with their parents. Involving students in conferences allows students to reflect on their own learning, identify learning goals, and celebrate academic success. It’s important during conference time that the communication focuses on the process of learning. Providing parents with evidence of student learning and details about their child’s progress will help them have a better picture of their child’s achievement and the next steps needed for improving learning. O’Connor (2009) states, “Portfolios, expanded formative reporting, effective informal communication, and student-involved conferences each provide better information than grades” (p. 238). Instead of using primarily grades to summarize achievement, teachers should provide students and parents with detailed feedback that enhances the learning process.
I am always available via e-mail and phone to inform and respond to parents questions or concerns about student progress. At each scheduled conference time in November, the parents are informed about their child’s progress. I also share with their parents the goals their child has set for behavior and work habits and how their child plans to accomplish those goals. This artifact, Goals, is used as a tool to inform families about their child’s progress but also allows the parents and students to be involved. Example 1 shows the student knows the areas she needs improvement. She states her academic goal is to improve place value by working extra hard, taking her time, and asking her teacher and parents to help her understand. Her work habit goal is to complete assignments on time by paying attention more and working harder. She writes that her mom, dad, and teacher can help her achieve her goals by explaining it to her and helping her with math. The parent, student, and I all sign the form as a commitment to helping the child reach his/her goals. The goal setting continues three times a year at each report card period with an opportunity for students to reflect on their prior goals. Example 2 shows a sample of the student reflecting on her prior goals from Example 1. She says she met her academic goal by having her teacher explain place value to her, but she did not meet her work habit goal to complete assignments on time because she got distracted easily. She then explains what she has learned from her previous goals. She writes, “You can’t just sit back and you have to put some effort into it.” This shows that this tool has helped her learn how to set goals and reflect to make changes. This will hopefully improve her work habit goals, which will positively influence her learning. At the same time, her parents are able to support her because they know the goals she is working on. Parents are welcome to schedule a conference any time throughout the year in addition to their yearly scheduled conference.
So parents are informed on a weekly basis, each Friday students are sent home with a self-assessment in which the students and I have assessed their progress throughout the week. I always leave a comment to the parents and there is a space for parents to write questions or comments. The form is to be returned with a parent signature. When the form is returned I am able to respond to any questions asked via notes, e-mail, or by phone. In this artifact Weekly Self-Assessment, Example 2, I wrote that the student had been showing improvement but needs to work on following directions and staying on task. The parent responded that they had discussed this together and agreed to continue their efforts to improve. This self-assessment is a tool used for two-way communication because the parents have a space to ask questions or leave comments.
Application of Learning and Looking Forward
The impact of assessment on student learning does not rely on the administering of assessment and collection of data alone. Improvement in learning requires teachers to use the assessment data to inform their instruction. Modifications in instructional design and adaptations for students based on assessment data will begin to address the learning needs of students. My assessment portfolio is an example of how I’ve used multiple assessments to assess students’ mastery of addition with regrouping. Within each section are artifacts that demonstrate my application and analysis of various types of assessment to make decisions about next steps for student learning.
My portfolio includes:
- Academic Learning Standards
- Connecting Learning Targets to Instructional Design
- Evidence of a Variety of Assessment Strategies to Address Learning Targets
- Evaluation Criteria for Multiple Assessments
- What I Learned from Multiple Assessments
- Summary of Student Learning
In the future, my goal is to continue to involve students in the assessment process. By helping students build a portfolio with work samples that show progress over time, I can teach them how to track their progress and assess their understanding. Looking at specific work samples will help my students reflect on areas of success and areas of growth. This will help my students take ownership of their learning and students will be better prepared to set goals, communicate their progress to parents, and celebrate their success.
Assessment Portfolio This artifact demonstrates my ability to use assessment to improve student learning.
Poster 1, Poster 2, Poster 3 These artifacts show my understanding of assessment throughout the course. They are designed to be tools to help students, parents, and teachers remember key elements of assessment that improve student learning.