EDS 113 finale: The hike towards assessment success

The journey….

Several ‘aha’ moments during the duration of the course were had, especially in enumerating the different types of assessments. While some have been labeled for me, some have been identified for me to use. They were not hard to accept, because I was a somewhat creative teacher, and have learned how to isolate and asses somehow in my practice…

The summit…

Looking down on how have I done in terms of assessment, I have discovered a few misconceptions I have held about assessments:

1. Prelesson assessment is a waste of time
2. Formative assessments could be shallow in essence and may not produce real reflections anyway
3. Tests can me made in haste as long as it covers the necessary scope of the material

In retrospect…

In the true spirit of self- assessment, I have come up with a small list of things I have realized after taking EDS 113, and the pledge I wish to make in the quest to improve my practice:

1. Pre-lesson assessment is important as much as post-lesson measurements are. Pre lesson assessment directs where to steer lessons in the interest of engagement and time- economy.

2. Formative assessments are a valuable information mine such that strategically devised ones have power to raise academic performance.

3. KYS (know your student) is not necessarily emotional but rather a highly logical tactic to be able to accurately gather important student data. I used to think that knowing your students is not as valuable as scores, but evaluations made through observations and prior experience with them shows how accurate they are in predicting future performance

4. Standardized tests is insufficient as an assessment if taken alone by itself. These things aren’t wrong as they are, but they heavily need back up in the forms of informal assessment methods. Teachers cannot take the easy route and dish out solely traditional forms and hold to them as the ends of education.

5. I would be an advocate of a movement towards greater accuracy in assessments by determining what are valuable information and what are not; what makes students respond to engage them to get high- quality data; employ an adapt-and -adjust strategy to reveal misconceptions and expose opportunities to instruct; stick close to assessment ‘authenticism’ by discovering scenarios where the assessments have a real- world application and value especially in the student’s own contexts (play, home life, intrapersonal, interpersonal).

Earl, L. (2006 April 27). Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind [webinar]. In Webcast for Educators. Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.org/k-12/en/videos/rethinking-classroom-assessment-with-purpose-in-mind

EDS 113 Assignment 2:Four teacher traits to make that exam a ‘game’

Looking for sample assessments, especially the non traditional ones, proved not as easy. As a teacher going through printed assessments after another, I have realized that there indeed is a serious lack of alternative forms. I began to wonder if teachers have gone lazy that while some do care, most of us have reported to what is available and what is easy. The importance of being accurate and sure of the results cannot be any more emphasized, because like we have learned in the past, the stakes are so high for learners assessments should not be made in a cavalier fashion.

So what are the necessary teacher traits that one needs to have to be able to assess the accurate way?

Not that I consider myself a good teacher (that is for others to say, wink), but I think I may be considered a good assessor. I like to make sure that I probe quite deeply into what I wish to know about my students in any way possible. Thinking of ways on how to incite interest and mitigate boredom to me is equally important to obtain genuine data, and I have realized that this requires a bit of creativity. Creating assessments that not only measure accurately (having the objectives in mind), but something that will also reflect real data demands an exciting format. To me, an effective assessment can make students feel like that it is possible to have a safe environment and have lots of fun while revealing what they know and don’t know yet.

Concern for students is something that most teachers claim to have, and I do believe in them, but in my experience, it is a real necessity to be able to push teachers to go the extra mile and create fitting and applicable testing methods. Assessments are not a one size fits all, and it is sometimes hard to see one perfect worksheet for one class applies to the specific needs of another. Sometimes teachers have to take real interest in obtaining authentic results.

Teachers need to be inquisitive- persistent in assessing student learning; it is highly important to be curious, hungry to know your students, their capabilities and incapabilities, their weak spots and their strengths. Wanting to know these can help pick up the drive into making purposeful tests, and teachers should not stop twisting questions around until one gets to the most vulnerable (and often times, revealing) areas.

The machine that operates all of these traits is self- reflection. While creativity and innovativeness, concern, inquisitiveness and persistence all play into the creation of good assessments, reflection determines how we can be innovative, concerned and persistent. If teachers walk around being mindful of how assessments can benefit both him or her and the students, then teachers will know how to treat results right. Do we toss it around and pose it as a final grade? Or do we investigate further because there is fair justification of the student’ inconsistencies? How will teachers make it fair for everybody? Teachers pose these
types of questions all the time and the truth is, it only needs a bit more thought in order to shape old, traditional assessments into exciting challenges. Teachers are still allowed to call it an exam, though.

EDS 113 Module 4: Why the topnotcher is not (necessarily) the smartest in the class

I went around today asking my coworkers who happen to be literacy and numeracy teachers at an enrichment center seeking their views on their beliefs on grades, specifically summative assessment grades (or report card figures). They start digging up in their past experiences, dating back in grade and high school, when all that matters is either academic rank, or coolness rank. Concentrating on academic rank, some of them who claimed they do not 100 per cent believe grades are a true reflection of intelligence or learning progress in mark equivalency said that they know more than one person who were, in their opinion, way more mentally advanced than the first in class, also know as the Top 1. This has struck me as I probably felt the same way more than once in my own classroom experience as a learner, and
sometimes as a teacher.

One of the teachers at my job claimed that hard work- laziness could significantly improve one’s rank. She claimed further that due to the traditional format of the school system, results could be skewed by intense review and studying before examinations. Very much agree. The review pre test- forget post test has proven so effective that all my coworkers know someone who mirrored the said technique (or perhaps themselves). Another pointed out that no matter how appropriate or highly prepared the assessment are, other intelligences may come into play such that one’s intelliegence domain (see M.I. by Gardner) may be mismatched into the institution one is in. According to her, a student who may have a slant towards a visual- spatial reasoning may do very poorly forcing himself in a liberal degree (and underperforming) when he could be in technical school learning how to reverse- engineer cars.

I stopped and thought about these views and thought that one of the two could be right: we might all be hating on the Top 1 of our respective classes, or they might have a valid point.

But before debunking all thoughts about the way we traditionally grade students, I wish to offer another insight. Our center keeps a strictly small teacher to student ratio, such that maximum number of students is 2 and 4 for reading and math, respectively. I wish to insist how it is still possible to rate and mark the learners accurately thru meaningful and deliberate formative assessments, and high quality constructed summative assessments, and how that keeps marks and progress reports accurate in describing what it needs to describe. Then were do teachers go wrong?

Perhaps grading trickiness is proportional to class size. What this means is that as the class grows in size, so does the lack of accuracy. It could be that a smaller class allows for more differentiated instruction and then differentiated assessment, and this relationship is what creates high fidelity grades and feedback. A larger class may be deindividualizing students into mere ‘group members’ and teachers may tend to generalize more as the class grows in number. I am always highly confident that my one on one student is almost always on the right track as I enjoy greater freedom in making teacher made worksheets and assessments, not having to consider to accommodate anybody. Comparing it to how I handled my 14 year old ESL class in Hanoi, Vietnam a long time ago where I would attempt to describe them in a few adjectives when asked about by my supervisor. Making some sense.