Assessments seem like something that is a burden for teachers. Learning is happening in the students' heads where it is invisible. How can we measure that? It may seem like we are talking about children like machines when we speak of testing and measuring them, but this is not the case. Measuring is how we can alter and fix something that is not working. Assessing is how we can find what works and what does not. Evaluation is how we create new and improved ways of doing things. This is also what is happening in the minds of these students' heads invisibly. They are evaluating themselves already, but they do not always know how to do it. Children are assessing themselves with other children all the time. We need to guide their evaluations of themselves like we guide their learning in other aspects.
What I am learning is that assessments that receive the most complaints are usually not being intentional enough, they are not aligned with the standards or objectives and that is the tension. Not that they are assessing, but they are assessing the wrong thing. This is why I prefer formative assessments completely. We are attempting to shape young minds, not discourage them from moving on. Guidance looks like formative assessment, something to help them grow and learn. Summative assessment is more of a judgement on their efforts or intelligence, depending on the test. Judgement can be discouraging. Olympic athletes may get judgement scores in the Olympics, but they do not achieve their skills because of those scores, they do that with the guidance of their coaches. Coaching is the key here. If we left the athletes to get judged without any other assessment do you really believe they would be motivated to continue or even know where to start to improve if they were still motivated? I got a 7 from the Russian judge, what does that mean? How do I improve that score?
Being intentional means to be offering feedback, based on assessments, that help a student meet their objectives. They are specific, actionable, and timely (Wiggins, 2012). Assessment allows us to see how the students are improving as well as how our classes are going for us. Data does not turn the student into an automaton, but helps us see trends so we can better help the student achieve. Data unlocks that brain so that learning is no longer so invisible and we can see how that student is learning so we can help them grow. Assessment should not be used to punish, but to inform and create better opportunities to learn. "Results from almost any assessment can be of great benefit to students, provided they are used to make instructional adjustments" (Dwyer, n.d.). Click below for ideas and research supporting using data to inform instruction.
My class has already been changing because of the information I have been gathering for this project. I intend to continue to use best practices for assessing my students so I can offer the best possible learning environment. I will focus on formative assessments, only using mandated summative assessments. I will use a mix of self-assessment, peer-assessment, and teacher assessment that will be aligned with the course objectives and intended student outcomes. The students will also be informed of these objectives and outcomes so they can be more motivated to participate in their own learning (Choi, 2013).
Choi, J. (2013, July). The motivation trifecta: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Delivering Happiness. Retrieved from http://deliveringhappiness.com/the-motivation-trifecta-autonomy-mastery-and-purpose/
Dwyer, C. (n.d.) Using classroom data to give systematic feedback to students to improve learning. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/education/k12/classroom-data.aspx
Wiggins, G. (2012). Seven keys to effective feedback. Educational Leadership. ASCD. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept12/vol70/num01/Seven-Keys-to-Effective-Feedback.aspx