Assessments play an important role in the classroom. How positive and powerful the role, depends on how they are used. In my classroom I use a comprehensive assessment plan that consists of three types of assessments: diagnostic (before), formative (during) and summative (after). I use these types of assessments in an authentic, natural way that promotes ongoing progress in a positive manner. With careful planning and consideration I am able to use these types of assessments to enhance learning and intrinsic motivation.
The objective of my summative assessments are to assess student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against a standard or benchmark. Summative assessments can include mid-term or final exam, final project, etc. Summative assessments can be high stakes in nature.
The objective of my formative assessments are different. Formative assessments provide ongoing feedback to monitor student learning. I use formative assessments to improve my instruction and students use them to improve their learning. Formative assessments help students identify their strengths and areas that need work. I can use them to identify students and areas of instructions that need additional support. Formative assessments are usually low stakes in nature. Examples of formative assessments in my classroom include exit tickets, observations, interview, reflections, etc. My math lessons, such as my 2nd grade seafood data lesson all have a formative assessment component
Summative assessments can be considered formative in nature if they are used to improve instruction. For example data from the end of the unit, geometry exam, can be used to improved instruction when that unit is taught the next time. A case study I wrote regarding problems solving is an example how I can use information to improve instruction.
My school district is a standards based school. Grades are and should be criterion based. Grading should not comparative (such as grading on a curve) nor should grades be norm based (Moon & Tomlinson, 2013). Comparative grading or ranking students is one of the most toxic ingredient in the classroom and can lead to cheating (Kohn 2007).
I my classroom I also focus on feedback. Research on feedback shows that it is one of the most powerful single innovation that enhances achievement. The simplest way to improve learning is ‘dollops’ of feedback. Reports have even shown that by providing students with information about their standing in terms of particular objectives can increase their achievement by 37 percentile points. (Atherton 2013) I love showing students their reading charts and having them mark their growth. I like giving students instant feedback on their math benchmarks. They become the owners of their progress and really celebrate their growth.
As a classroom teacher I make sure objectives are set and provide frequent, timely feedback. Our classroom assessment feedback should be corrective in character and be specific to objective. It is also important to remember that students can provide their own feedback in meaningful ways with great success. Classroom assessments need to be formative in nature. They need be used to modify teaching and learning activities. Classroom assessment feedback should encourage students to improve and progress.
Assessments are similar to the instrument in a car. The instruments in a car use measurement to provide information. They can tell you if you need to slow down or speed up, they provide warnings signals if something isn’t work etc. It is possible to get to my destination without instruments but that would require everything to go perfectly. In education things don’t always run smoothly. We need the instruments to help us reach our destination. They aren’t our point of focus but they a necessary tool.
Atherton J S. Learning and Teaching; What works best [On-line: UK]. 2013. retrieved 15 March 2016 from http://www.learningandteaching.info/teaching/what_works.htm
Kohn, Alfie. The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Lifelong, 2007. Print.
Moon, Tonya R., and Carol A. Tomlinson. Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom. N.p.: ASCD, 2013. Print.
Student Case Study
A case study I completed for EDMA 608 Problem Solving. For my case study I chose to use the math problem: Follow the Bouncing Ball. This case study demonstrates my ability to use student work to adjust my instruction.
Seafood Data Lesson
This 2nd grade measurement and data lesson about seafood consumption demonstrates how assessments are built into all of my lesson plans.