Alternative AssessmentEducation

Assessments…what’s the point?

By March 20, 2012 No Comments

It seems like I have been inundated with assessments since my first day as a new curriculum director.  First it was being trained (and then training) on mClass and Acuity.  How do we give the assessment?  How do we read the reports?  How do we use the reports to guide classroom instruction and RtI?  Then, with the Common Core standards, it has been learning the standards, deconstructing the standards, and using them to write quality assessments.  I’m reading articles about formative assessments, receiving training on “evidence of learning”, leading teachers through writing higher-level-thinking assessments from which they will be evaluated for the new teacher compensation model, and I’m currently reading Formative Assessments & Standards-Based Grading by Robert Marzano (not exactly pleasure-reading material).

As a former second-grade teacher, I conducted unobtrusive assessment (Marzano term that I’m putting into practice!) all day long.  This type of assessing played a major role in my writer’s workshop conferring.  I used performance assessments weekly to evaluate my students’ reading growth.  Both of these grades were given based on their growth and mastery over the grading period.  However, I would say all of my obtrusive assessments were summative.  My grading in math was done averaging scores from throughout the grading period.  How did this benefit my students?  I’m learning the great power in formative assessments and the larger benefit of standards-based grading.

Are athletes scored on their practices?  Are dancers reviewed on what they do during rehearsals?  Of course not, so why do educators continue to penalize students on the work they did on their way to mastering the content?  Assessments should guide a teacher on what to do to remediate, challenge or move on with each individual student.  Giving points for homework, participation, and attendance does little to tell where that student is on learning each particular strategy/skill/standard.

Do we continue to do what we’ve always done, or do we change for the betterment of our teaching and the learning of our students?