Understanding Before the Course  

In the previous quarter I had taken curriculum and design, so I had some understanding of beginning with the end in mind, and thinking like an assessor; however, the assessment course as well the various activities we engaged in helped increase my knowledge of the true purpose of assessment.  My previous methods of grading included percentages, and I always found it difficult as a teacher distinguishing what work qualified as an A, B, C, D, or F.  What did this letters really mean anyway? What do percentages mean?  How can I justify the grade of by an A.  These were some of the questions the authors raised while I took this course, and these questions were for the most part answered by the end.

Learning During the Course

Throughout the summer quarter of 2014, I read Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing it right -Using it well by Jane Chappuis, Rick Stiggins, Steve Chappuis and Judith Ater, as well as How to Grade for Learning by Ken O’Connor.  Both of these texts helped to change my mindset in terms of assessing students.  It was through these texts that some of my struggle with traditional grading was elivated.  I believe that O’connor mentioned, “What’s the real difference between a 78 and 79 anyway.  I explain this a bit more in my evaluation of Ava’s learning. Assessment Artifact   Additionally, throughout the quarter I worked on creating an assessment that is aligned to the CCSS and broke those standards down into learning targets.  Then I changed those learning targets into student friendly language with “I can” statements.  From those “I can” statements, I created a 4 point rubric which helps assess students ability to meet those specific learning targets.   In this unit, I also discuss the various types of learning that takes place.  For example, within the unit, I make sure to describe what parts are perfomance tasks, which tasks and standards require reasoning skills and so on.  Here is a link to my assessment. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iGTvhpsND4nOp4nWqS9GusVtVHChXaT-R4XdUpiTPvs/edit?usp=sharing

Many revisions were made along the way, and I use a version of this rubric when I teach multi-cultural literature.  Some adjustments are made because many students struggle with attending school on a daily basis, so they may start the learning process at a lower level than what the unit has been written for.  Modifying curriculum and making it accessible to each student is important, and one of the key roles of an assessor especially if the focus is student growth.  

Additionally, I learned about different types of portfolios. Growth portfolios to measure students learning throughout the term, or year, or even several years.  For example a teacher may want to use a growth portfolio for a student starting their freshman year of high school and have them include their work from their freshman year all the way to their senior year.  This would be a great measurement of growth.  (Chappuis, O’Connnor).

Furthermore I was reminded about the importance of authenticity in student assessments and learning.  Performance tasks, oral presentations help create authenticity.  Additionally, if students are given a choice in how to demonstrate their learning for the standard they are more likely to be engaged, and the learning will indeed be authentic.  However, it is important to set parameters as a teacher and provide the standards that they are to meet. (Chappuis, O’Connor)

Areas of Growth  

I am still working on adjusting assessments so that they make sense within the frame of the school I am working.  Pacing can be a challenge, given that we have 18 days each term to make sure students grow in their knowledge and understanding of key concepts from the curriculum.  Many of the pre and post assessments in my discipline involve writing prompts, which can take several days to complete to meet standard.  I am fortunate to work with an incredible group of people who are creative and come up with designs to measure student growth.  As I continue to grow as a facilitator, and assessor, I hope to incorporate some more creative methods of assessing into my classroom.  

Additionally, I want to work on easing the anxiety created by standardized tests.  Currently, many parents are opting their students out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, and some juniors have not shown up to take the assessment. (Seattle Times).  I am hoping that by the time my students take the assessment in a couple of weeks they will be familiar with the tools they need to navigate the test, and enter into taking it with confidence.

Ultimately, on any type of assessment whether it be a standardized assessment or one in which students can re-take to meet the standard (Dueck), we want students to do their best.  If students see assessments as an opportunity to demonstrate and showcase their knowledge perhaps then the sentiment towards testing will change.

References  

Chappuis, j. Chappuis S. Stiggins, r. and Ater, J. (2012). Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing it right -Using it Well. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River. Pearson

 O’connor, K. (2009). How to Grade for Learning 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks.

Corwin Todd, L. (2015) Seattle Times: Nathan Hale High School Juniors Boycott State Test. April 23, 2105. Retreived from: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/nathan-hale-high-school-juniors-boycott-state-test/

Dueck, M (2014). WordPress.com Douple Dip in the When vs. If Power Struggle. January 29th. Retrieved from: https://myrondueck.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/double-dip-one-idea-in-the-when-vs-if-power-struggle/

Gritter, K (Summer 2014).  Modules 1-8. Seattle Pacific University.

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