Thursday, January 15, 2009

Testing, Assessment & Evaluation

Assessing for Improvement

Why do we test?
It does not diagnose causes for low scores:
  • cognitive, emotional or physical reasons for their inability to achieve.

As teachers face more and more children with increasingly severe disabilities we are facing more and more cutbacks:
Special Education, ESL programs, Professional Development opportunities, including in-service, and less access to human and physical resources.
These are the programs that help a teacher make a difference and provide quality programming to all students.

Why do we evaluate?

To communicate student achievement to students, parents, administrators, institutions & employers.
To improve learning and instruction
Provide incentives to improve (goal)
Evaluate effectiveness of instructional strategies.
Perform individual diagnosis and prescription.

Grading for learning
Tools for collecting data or information about students’ level of understanding
E.g. projects, quizzes, tests, PBAT, homework, presentations

Teacher judgments based on information obtained from the assessment .

Perspectives on Grading
Grades are not essential for learning
Grading is complicated
Grading is subjective/emotional
Grading is inescapable
Research on grading practices are rare
No single best grading practice
Faulty grading damages students & teachers

The purposes of testing may be any of the following reasons
1) accountability
2) feedback
3) classification and/or certification of students
4) reform.

Grading in Principle
  • Grades should not include group marks
  • Grade in pencil
  • “Highest most consistent mark”
  • Sample mark
  • Vary assessment techniques:
  • paper & pencil, performance (observations), personal communication (questioning techniques),
  • Vary assessors:
  • Peer, teacher, self-assessment

Evaluation Practices
  • Teachers do not normally evaluate effectively.
  • NOT: attendance, participation, keeping neat books or desks, effort or attitude.
  • Purpose: improve student learning.
  • Do not assign group grades:
  • Not fair, undermine report cards, convey wrong message, violate individual accountability,provide resistance to cooperative learning, may be challenged.

Teacher Assessment: daily, in your day book
  • Note strategies that worked
  • Summarize the results
  • Identify what to do next
  • Sometime keep a Day-behind book?

Assessment that promotes learning provides...
-No unexpected surprises
-Allows students to celebrate & demonstrate their learning
-Engages & motivates with authentic work
-Provides specific, timely feedback

Feedback: What is it?
We adjust the water for a shower, cook a meal, exercise, Q & A
Where does it fit in with a sound assessment plan?
What does good feedback look and sound ike?
How can we encourage feedback for self-assessment & self-adjustment?
What are the barriers to quality feedback?

Barriers to authentic data
  • You can’t learn without feedback
  • Teaching doesn’t cause learning
  • Learning arises from attempts to perform
  • Most powerful modification to enhance achievement is feedback
  • Feedback is not the same as praise or blame
  • Develops metacognitive habits of mind
  • Opportunities for students to feel competent and accepted

Feedback Should be
  • Valid: “assess what you value”
  • Reliable: “consistent in your judgements”
  • Manageable: “work smarter not harder”
  • Timely
  • Specific
  • Corrective: what went well, what needs improvement,
  • Guide for how to improve
Assessment of a Unit of Study
  • Are my assessment & evaluation practices tied to curriculum?
  • Do I communicate criteria effectively?
  • Do I balance a variety of assessment strategies?
  • Do I provide feedback regularly?
  • Do I separate learning skills from student achievement?
  • Are grading practices based on sufficient evidence?
  • Do I involve students in evaluation strategies?
  • Do I modify for special needs students?
  • Are assessments free of bias: race, gender, social, cultural, financial, ability, learning styles?
  • Rubrics

Teacher Self-Assessment
  • Are these activities meaningful for the students?
  • Are the students involved in procesing and reflecting (metacognition)?
  • Are they acting on what they know?
  • Are they transferring knowledge?
  • Are they integrating new information with what they already know?
  • Have I integrated learning styles

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