In the beginning of my teaching career I felt pretty comfortable in my knowledge of assessments. I also had experience teaching with a standards-based instruction during all of my practicum work and student teaching experiences. When I began the SPU course, EDU 6613 on assessment I felt confident in my background knowledge and skills on the subject area. In the very beginning of the course I was asked to make note of everything I could regarding what I knew about assessments. I was able to write down that there are two types of assessment, formative and summative. I also was able to note that formative assessments are assessments for learning whereas summative assessments are assessments of learning. I also knew formative assessments help the teacher know what students understand before a lesson begins and also helps a teacher track student progress during a lesson as well. There are several different ways a teacher can use formative assessments such as; exit slips, observations, student work, one-on-one conferencing during workshops, conversations and student self-assessment. You are able to use such information to dictate your lesson plan. When should you stop to reteach, enrich etc. Formative assessments are, in a way, like the road map of your journey on the way to your final destination. Summative assessments are used as a more formal way of testing. Summative assessments work hand in hand with a rubric (which hopefully the students are aware of, or helped create). These assessments are aligned (or should be aligned) with state standards that will help measure student’s progression towards that standard. After beginning course EDU 6613 Standard-Based Assessment, I quickly realized that my understanding of assessment was only scratching the surface of its true meaning. One of the first quotes that really made me realize I had lots to learn was in Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis and Steve C’s Classroom Assessment for Student Learning when it stated, “All of the pieces contributing to sound classroom assessment instruments and practices are built on a foundation of the following five keys to quality: 1. They are designed to serve the specific information needs of intended user(s). 2. They are based on clearly articulated and appropriate achievement targets. 3. They accurately measure student achievement. 4. They yield results that are effectively communicated to their intended users. 5. They involve students in self-assessment, goal setting, tracking, reflecting on, and sharing their learning” (Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis pg 3). This quote opened my eyes because it helped me realize I was only following a few of those five essential components of sound classroom assessments.
In this class I was exposed to several authors who helped break down the importance of sound classroom assessment; How to Grade for Learning K-12, Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Grading, and Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing it Right- Using it Well. All of these books stressed several of the same key factors for successful assessments. One of these key items is having clearly defined learning targets for your students. Once the learning targets are defined, teachers then have the ability to co-design (with their students) an assessment that aligns with those targets and standards. This was a harder component for me to grasp. Teaching very young primary grades, the thought of having students co-design an assessment they would be taking was intimidating and honestly felt impossible. During this class, we created a Unit Exam following all of the necessary steps that we learned about from our readings. I first started by Design a Unit Exam that I wanted to create and set learning targets. The reading from O’Connor’s, How to Grade for Learning, he teaches the reading how to appropriately use rubrics and make students knowledgeable too. In Module 1a and Module 1b I mapped out how my assessment aligned with the state standards. As seen in module 1b as well as throughout my final product, I use my new learning on creating rubrics to organize a rubric that aligned with my nonfiction/informative writing unit exam. My final product shows how I incorporated all of the necessary components from the readings for a comprehensive unit exam. I found it to be most beneficial for my students to keep a project portfolio to show their competence in their new learning. The shown artifacts in the project portfolio are just a few items that student included in their portfolio.
As I wrapped up the unit I felt very proud knowing how well the unit aligned to my learning targets and the state standards for writing. Overall, I feel that I showed my competence in utilizing formative and summative assessment in a standards-based environment through my readings and my final product for this class. In the future, I plan to continue using what I know is good practice when it comes to assessments. The five key components to sound classroom assessment and practice take a lot of frequent practice to feel at mastery. Each year holds a different group where you may need to modify how you work with those students to assist in rubric and assessment making. I can’t let my student’s age keep me from allowing them to take part in this process. I am so please to have challenged myself and stepped out of my comfort zone in these areas regarding assessment I feel as a professional I took several steps in the right direction to improving my practice. In the future I would like and plan to help a few of my kindergarten teammates who I know struggle with the same mentality I did with allowing students to partake in this component. Providing my teammates access to the same texts I read as well as a sample of how it could be done could really easy the intimidation factor.
Andrade, H. (2010). Handbook of formative assessment. New York: Routledge.
Marzano, Robert. (2010). Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Grading. Bloomington, IN.: Marzano Research Laboratory.
O’Connor, Ken. (2009). How to Grade for Learning K-12 (3rd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA.: Corwin, A Sage Company.
Stiggins, R., Arter, J., Chappuis, J., and Steve C. (2012). Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing it Right – Using it Well (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ.: Pearson Education, Inc.
Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website for Washington state: http://www.k12.wa.us/CoreStandards/elastandards/pubdocs/CCSSI_ELA_Standards.pdf#3
Quinlan, A. (2006). A complete guide to rubrics: Assessment made easy for teachers, K-college. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Education.