Assessments

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This was something I wrote for a class on Education.

The most important element of an effective assessment seems to be the information it provides. An assessment isn’t particularly useful if it doesn’t demonstrate what a student knows, and where a student needs to improve. True/ false questions, or some of the simpler multiple choice quizzes would be prone to random chance, so it’s not very effective in determining an individual student’s level of understanding. It can be useful in determining if there’s something the entire class needs to know. If a question requires multiple steps in order for students to get to the answer, knowing that a student got the answer wrong isn’t going to be enough. Henke had a good point that teachers can sometimes forget to consider what they want to assess before coming up with the questions, something to keep in mind in the future.

The speed which with an assessment can be administered and examined is another priority. I can understand the point that frequent formative assessments can be seamlessly integrated into a class, and can even be advantageous by providing a change of pace for middle school students with short attention spans. However, it’s still best if assessments don’t take too much time out of the class. And given the amount of material a teacher reviews, it’s also better if it can be checked quickly.

I feel assessments are particularly difficult in an ELA setting, so I’m concerned about that. My experience with Common Core from student teaching during the summer reminds me that the standards can be rather vague. And sometimes the answers aren’t meant to be clear-cut. There often isn’t a correct answer in questions about ambiguous points in stories, or assignments about expressing oneself.

There are other questions, especially after reading the articles. I did like the ELA specific examples in Turner’s piece, but I feel differentiation can be especially difficult. Students will be at mixed proficiencies with both the subject matter and strategies. In addition to the difficulties of teaching ELLs, with the added complications with “linguistically diverse” (to borrow a term from Turner) there would be a potential clash with teaching kids who have a good understanding of self-assessment and some who don’t.

A valuable point was on the idea of differentiating for the top students as well. I’m interested in the nuances, as this may end up being a difficult needle to thread. I’d want students to push themselves, but I don’t want to mislead anyone (IE- implying that a student is producing worse work than someone else in the class in order to motivate the first kid.) There’s also the balancing of egos as well, although classes can usually figure out who the most advanced kids are.

Most of the focus on articles was on written assessments, which I prefer since it can be double-checked, although checklists have been helpful as a way to keep track of informal assessments. I’m curious about the logistics of one-on-one conferences. In block scheduling, Do Nows/ Entrance Slips and Exit Tickets are pretty useful terms of the structure of the class, so that’s the most likely addition to a lesson plan.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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