Assessment News

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Summary

The common theme in this week's reading, across multiple sources, is the what, the why, and the how of assessment. Expert teachers must figure out what they should assess, why they are assessing it, and how they should assess it. In addition, does the assessment have a consequence for the student? Assessment must have value for students.


According to Afflerbach, for assessment to work it takes time, knowledge, vigilance, and knowing what reading actually is. In some formative assessments, there should have an ecological component to it: Does it present a "real" snapshot? Are students being observed in a way that reflects how or what they would normally read? If a student is rarely asked to read aloud, an assessment for fluency while reading aloud may not be as valid as other forms of assessment.

Reflection

Resilience, Meaning, Accountability

Some of the reading that stood out to me, and perhaps had the most impact, was the discussion of resilience in students. Praise can often undermine our work in creating resilient children. I often have students show me a piece of writing or art or a project and ask, "Is it good?" First, I don't want to answer that question. Students have to learn independence and how to self-monitor him/herself, asking: Did I follow directions? Is this my best work? Is this my neatest work? Where did I struggle? Do I need more help? Furthermore, if what they show me is not all that "good," then I shouldn't answer that it is. When a teacher does, it gives 1) a false sense of accomplishment, and 2) tells the student (incorrectly) that their work is at the standard that it should be.


I enjoyed the analogy of Mandy and Henry (Johnston and Costello, 260 and 261) because it illustrates that specific assessments, such as a summative high-stakes standardized test, show one snapshot of a child. That snapshot, whether by fault of teacher or assessment, can provide educators with incorrect or incomplete information; the two students, though with similar test scores, were at different levels of literacy development.