Meaningful Assessments

Amy Fouts

"Assessment is not about you as a teacher; it is about your students" (Lopez).

Based on the above quote, my mind has been changed when it comes to assessments. Not being a teacher, I just see and hear the teachers at my daughter's school and the one that I work at in the evenings. The district that I am in is very stuck in the opposite mindset, especially in the state testing department. From what I have gathered, teachers feel that the state tests are geared towards their performance more so than the children's. As Lopez states, assessments should be about the children and how we can best help them grow and learn.

Questioning Assessments

  1. Why are you participating in the assessments that you use with students?
  2. Can you share in explicit detail the value that you find in each assessment?
  3. Do you participate in assessments that you find no value in for students?
  4. Are you using an assessment you have no idea how to deliver, but are afraid to ask for help with?


When looking over these questions, it really makes me press pause and think about the reasoning on why we are assessing what we assess. Lopez says "if we cannot explicitly show how students are engaged in assessments that we deliver, then we cannot sufficiently defend the use of those very assessments". If teachers stop and take the time to answer these questions honestly, it could make a huge difference in not only their assessments, but their teaching as well. The key to getting value out of these four questions would be in being genuine in our answers and reflection on how we do things.

My Successes and Failures

I am not currently teaching but I am with kids everyday. I run an after school program in a local school district for over 100 sixth grade students. We plan fun and engaging activities, help with homework, and do art, crafts, gym games, and more. We do assessments, but on the activities and what they kids enjoy or do not enjoy, not the children's development or growth. For each activity we implement we talk about the outcome, goals and objectives. My staff and I meet weekly to discuss activities, events, behaviors, etc. We decide if we need to alter activities to make them more advanced, simpler, a combination of the two, or to just get rid of the activity all together. I feel like we are succeeding in the fact that we ask for the students input constantly. We even have the students work together to plan ideas and activities that they would like to see or do. My goal of the program is for the students to feel like it is 'their' program. Where I feel like I am potentially failing is in the fact that I do not assess the growth of any of the children. We promote that the program does not imitate the school day, but is more of an extension of it. I collaborate with my student's teachers to help support their learning and growth but I do not assess it myself.

References

Lopez, D. (2013). No excuses university: How six exceptional systems are revolutionizing our schools (2nd ed.). Turnaround Schools Publications.