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Assessments and Testing
Transcript of Assessments and Testing
By: Donyale, Jacqueline & Kayde
What is assessment?
Assessment is the method used to monitor and measure the learning process. it can be summed up as, “collection, synthesis, and interpretation of information to aid the teacher in decision making” (as cited in Oosterhof, 1999, p.4). Mores specifically assessment is an ongoing process of creating high expectations for student learning, measuring their learning outcomes, and then taking the opportunity to reflect upon this information to improve academics and curricular programs in the classroom.
“The United States is behind many other developed countries in math and science test scores” (TIMSS 1995)
Required assessment of content standards in reading, math and science mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
Often referred to as “high stakes testing” because of the emphasis on accountability
Students grades effect both themselves (promotion) and their teachers (evaluation)
Effect on Low SES and Minority Students
Those who fail are likely to be African American and/or disproportionately poor (Hess & Brigham)
Stereotypes lower test scores
Black and Latino students in New York score below whites and Asians on standardized tests so consistently that although they are almost 70% of the overall student body, they are only 11% of students enrolled at elite public schools (TIME)
The gap for achievement test scores between rich and poor have grown by almost 60% since the 1960s and are now almost twice as large as the gap between white students and children of other races (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
Issues with Assessment
Assessment bias “refers to qualities of an assessment instrument that offend or unfairly penalize a group of students because of the students’ gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, or other such group defining characteristic” (Popham, 2011, p. 111). Biases are aspects of the test such as content, language, or example that might distort the performance of a group-either for better or worse. For example, if a reading test uses passages that described boxing or football scenarios, we might expect males on average to do better than females.
Two forms of assessment bias are unfair penalization and offensiveness. the reading assessment with heavy sports content is an example of unfair penalization- girls may be penalized for their lack of boxing or football knowledge. Offensiveness occurs when a particular group might be insulted by the content of the assessment. Offended, angry students may not perform at their best.
Assessment... Let’s Break it Down
Why do we assess our students?
Assessments are critical because teaching involves making many kinds of judgements- decisions based on values such as would a student do better if he were to repeat the grade?
The affective side is how the students feel about their learning process and the attitude they have developed toward learning. This also includes their self-esteem when related to the learning process. this is important in the classroom because if a student has a negative feeling toward subject matter or is thoroughly convinced they are a poor student in a certain discipline, you can jump through hoops to teach them the material an they will still not be truly successful. If you incorporate affective assessment into your classroom then you will be aware of these attitudes and fears, and hopefully work toward a more positive climate. This positivity can lead to more academic success in the classroom. You can easily measure affective outcomes in your classroom with the creation of feeling surveys, opportunity of open dialogue in journals or with the development of classroom meetings.
My Own Experience
Every parent wants to boast that his/her child is “a straight A student,” “at the top of their class,” or “on the honor roll” but what determines this prized status? Grades! Doing “well” in school is measured by a series of letters or numbers on a piece of paper: A (90-100) is great; B (80-89) is good; C (70-79), not so great; While D or F (69-0) means “you’re grounded!” For teachers, students and families grades validate proficiency and inefficiency.
Assessment is NOT just...
Tests and quizzes
Grades in the grade book
Collection of data
It should be referred to as a tool for providing a variety of types of feedback about the curriculum and how it impacts the students.
You should use this information to develop
re-teaching techniques and a variety of instructional “tricks”
to thoroughly cover the objectives you have developed.
Objective and Assessment Link
It is essential when thinking about assessment you refer back to the objectives written in your lesson plans. “In determining what to assess, instructional objectives can play a prominent role in the teacher’s choice of assessment emphases” (Popham, 2003, p.7). You do not want to assess your students on something you did not thoroughly cover in your class. Therefore the objective and assessment section of your lesson plans should look very similar.
There are two main categories of assessment, formal and informal assessment. Within each of these main categories are subcategories with more tools that a teacher can use.
: Designed in advance that link to specific outcomes. it is often the written format of student progress such as a test, quiz, or graded homework so the feedback given to students is very concrete.
: a method of formal assessment that is used as a scoring guide when a task is completed. it is often a checklist that outlines the criteria necessary for the successful completion of the product or the process behind the product.
Tests, Quizzes, Exams
: written format used to determine learning outcomes after a lesson or unit is completed.
Informal Assessment- the continuous process of monitoring student learning. it is often very “spur of the moment” (Oosterhof, 1999, p.4). Informal assessment includes
Teacher observation of her students
Developing impressions of your students based on their demonstration of capabilities in the classroom
Studying body language of students to determine if they have understanding of the concept being taught
Published tests today are called standardized tests because they are administered, scored, and interpreted in a standard manner- same directions, time limits, and scoring for all.
These standardized tests are used to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and the teachers themselves rarely have a say in selecting these tests.
Classroom Assessments are created and selected by teachers. They can take on many forms such as unit tests, essays, portfolios, projects, performances, oral presentations, etc.
But what are we really assessing?
A marlup was poving his kump. Parmily a narg horped some whev in his kump.
“Why did vump horp some whev in my frinkle kump?” the marlup juf’d the narg.
“Er’m muvvily trungy,” the narg grupped. “Er hashed vump norpled whev in your kump. Do vump pove your kump frinkle?”
1. What did the narg horp in the marlup’s kump?
The narg horped some whev in the marlup’s kump.
2. What did the marlup juf the narg?
Why did wump horp some whev in his frinkle kump
3. Was the narg trungy?
Yes, the narg was trungy.
4. How does the marlup pove his kump?
The marlup pove his kump frinkle.
Students are able to answer the "comprehension" questions
Students may be able to read the passage
Comprehension is NOT needed to answer the questions
The answers are explicitly in the text
Benefits of High Stakes Testing
Establishes guidelines for the curriculum to be taught
May motivate students to improve/study
Focus on student achievement (gap)
NCLB provided additional funding for Supplementary Educational Services (SES), which have been noted to have positive effects on achievement among underachieving students if implemented well*
Pressures of High Stakes Testing
How do we motivate students despite the pressures of high stakes testing?
Play classical music for the 10 minutes preceding the test to calm the students
“Psych out the test” game (Identify key words such as: list, explain, predict, support your opinion etc.)
“Train” of thought for essay writing
As seen in the classroom...
Test Bias Cont.
Research on test bias shows that most standardized tests predict school achievement equally well across all groups of students (Sattler, 2001). But even so, many people believe that the tests still can e unfair to some groups. Tests may not have procedural fairness; that is, some groups may not have an equal opportunity to show what they know on the test. Some examples include...
The language of the test and the tester is often different from the languages of the students. This is an example of assessment bias for English Language Learning students.
Answers that support middle-class values are often rewarded with more points.
On individually administered intelligence tests, being very verbal and talking a lot is rewarded. This favors students who feel comfortable in that particular situation.
Culture Fair Tests
Concern about cultural bias in testing has led some psychologists to try to develop the so-called culture-fair tests. These efforts have not been very successful. On many of the culture-fair tests, the performance of students from lower-SES backgrounds and ethnic groups has been the same as or worse than their performance on the standard Wechsler and Binet Intelligence scales (Sattler, 2001). Every student’s learning is embedded in his or her culture and every test question emerges from some kind of cultural knowledge. Teacher-created tests can also have an element of assessment bias. It would be a smart decision to have a colleague look over your assessment material to double check that it does not contain bias.
I didn’t have a lot of exposure to assessment while I did my observation. However, i did ask the teacher about her own assessment methods. She explained to me that the student move up in reading level after having a one on one consultation with her. She will ask them to read a passage and then answer comprehension questions about the text. If the student answer adequately then he or she will move up in reading level. The other form of assessment I witnessed was the class practicing for the ELA test. The teacher went through the reading portion of the sample test and helped the students identify what they should be including in their essay. She also gave them tips on how to look for pertinent information.
Which grading method is most effective?
The Retention Controversy
About 10% of U.S students ages 16-19 have been retained at least once.
Retained children are more likely male, members of minority groups, living in poverty, younger and less likely to have participated in early childhood programs.
Based on Jim Harvey's speech structures
is used during the lessons to keep shaping learning and monitor the progress of student learning. What does this look like in the classroom?
Changing the pacing of a lesson
Clarifying within the lesson
Using different examples or perspectives to thoroughly explain the concept
Re-teaching when necessary
used at the end of a lesson or unit to evaluate what has been accomplished. What does this look like in the classroom?
a chapter or unit test
midterm or final exam
This type of assessment is usually designed for each of the objectives stated in the lesson or unit so there is a direct link. A great question to ask yourself when completing this type of assessment is:
Did the students learn what I thought they would after we completed the lesson or uni I just taught?
What are we really assessing?
Progression of our students?
Areas where students are struggling?
What we should be spending more time teaching our students?
Are these types of assessments helping teach critical thinking in our students?
***While all multiple choice exams or reading passages may not be like the Marlup selection, it is useful to reflect on the usefulness of our assessments – we must make sure that they are authentic and that students UNDERSTAND rather than regurgitate information
Source: Crist & Shafer
Students are extremely unprepared for these exams (self esteem)
Students are incredibly nervous
Students are bored, test prep is taking up time that would have otherwise been spent on genuine teacher-generated lessons
Students are getting promoted despite unsatisfactory grades (1 or 2 on standardized tests)
Students’ grades on standardized tests are not aligned with their classroom performance
Retention in lower grades kindergarten for example is common and some consider it practical for those not properly prepared for the next grade level.
A widely endorsed argument states that when low-achieving students are retained in a grade the academic status of children in a classroom will become more homogenous easing the teacher’s task of managing instructional activities.
Children who view grade retention as a punishment may study harder to avoid being retained in the future.
Some argue that repeating a grade is developmentally more appropriate and may make learning more meaningful for children who are struggling.
Do Not Retain Student!
Hong and Raudenbush found that retention is not helpful but harmful.
Retention is associated with poor long-term outcomes such as dropping out of school, higher arrests rates, fewer job opportunities and lower self-esteem.
Delayed kindergarten entrance is not associated with better academic achievement for children with learning disabilities.
There is no evidence that retention improves reading, math or instruction in the 1st grade by making the class similar academically.
Retention constrains the learning potential for all but the highest risk children and interferes with peer relations.
Struggling children should receive help, the best approach may be to promote the child along with their peers but provide time for remediation.
The best approach is to prevent problems before they occur by providing extra resources in the early years.
Parents deserve to know how their children are doing in school and must be involved. Progress and failure can be communicated via:
Notes attached to report cards
Phone calls, especially “good news” calls
Portfolios/exhibits of student work
School or class web pages
Communicating with families
Testing/ Grading in Class 609
Authentic Assessments (presentations/exhibitions)
Traditional Assessments (essays, multiple choice, & textbook testing)
Criterion-referenced grading (notebook collection weekly, participation, exams, homework & behavior determines grade)
Motivation (feedback & incentives, example, pizza Thursday)
Delaney Book (monitors in-class progress)
Class dojo (progress report for parents & students)
As future teachers, we have to remember that through our assessment we should encourage and model critical thinking :
Foster class discussions on topics discussed
Teach authentic real-world skills
Explore the “wrong” answers
Encourage constructive controversy
Let students evaluate each other
"Is this going to be on the test?"
Implications that Result from Grading
an evaluation process that involves multiple forms of performance measurement reflecting the student's learning, achievement, motivation, and attitudes on instructionally-relevant activities.
Authentic assessments tests skills and abilities as they would be applied in real-life situations.
Examples of Authentic Assessment:
-assessments that require students to carry out an activity or produce a production in order to demonstrate learning
Types of performance assessments:
- a collection of student’s work in an area showing growth, self-reflection, and achievement
- performance test or demonstration of learning that is public and usually takes an extended time to prepare
: for anxious, less confident, children with special needs and English Language Learners (ELL) grading can cause anxiety. Although high standards and competition increase academic learning there must be a balance. Students who have a variety of learning challenges must be given a reasonable chance to succeed. In order to increase academic learning for all students there must be a balance
may cause students to withdraw, blame others, decide that the work is "dumb", become unmotivated or feel responsible and helpless.
caused by low grades promotes doubt, uncertainty and a sense of failure.
Students who do the minimum and receive good grades do not take the imitative to go the extra mile because they believe they are entitled to good grades.
Motivation equals success:
Hold high but realistic expectations for your students
Offer Feedback: accurate and critical feedback prevents students from making the same mistakes and promotes student learning
Rather than assigning a failing grade (F), label the work incomplete then provide support on revising or improving the assignment
Be enthusiastic about your subject
Tell students what they need to do to succeed in your course
Work from students' strengths and interests
Vary your teaching methods
Family support: families may come up with creative ways to motivate their child’s learning by ascribing a monetary value to each good letter or numerical and sometimes taking away privileges for each bad one
Norm-Referenced grading & grading on the curve:
determines student’s standing in comparison with others
compares students’ performance to an average level
students may study hard as other classmates but receive low grades (C,D, or F)
damages relationships among students & between teachers & students
limits the number of good grades that can be given
diminishes motivation for most students
Grades represent a list of accomplishments
A number of objectives must be completed satisfactorily
The criteria for each grade is very specific, spelt out in advance, leaving achievement or underachievement up to the student
Judgments about the student are based solely on the achievement of clearly defined instructional goals.
How is this sample text similar/different to a reading passage we may give our students?
How do we know if our assessments are authentic?
Authentic assessments ask students to apply skills and abilities as they would in real life. For example, they might use fractions to enlarge or reduce recipes.
According to Grant Wiggins (1989), If tests determine what teachers actually teach and what students will study for- and they do- then the road to reform is a straight but steep one: test those capabilities and habits we think are essential, and test them in context.
Authentic assessment asks students to perform. The performances may be thinking performance, physical performances, creative performances, or other forms.
Consider this sample reading passage
Tests are getting increasingly more difficult (see samples from previous test booklets)
Pressure to cheat (teachers & students)
Lack of accommodation for different learning styles
Fear of not being promoted/graduating
The Stoplight Method
Short Answer Item