No Excuses University

Assessments Leslie A. Barreras EDU 650

“Assessment is not about you as a teacher; it is about your students”- Lopez 2013

As we begin the shift in thought from assessments being a rate on our performance to practicing assessments that actually add value to our schools, students and staff- I feel that we are beginning to see the bigger picture. Based on this perspective we are once again teaching our students to be a part of their own education. To be actively engaged in the learning process and understand what it is to meet goals that are designed for them and with them. By following these guidelines we are insuring that within our classrooms we are setting a foundation that will carry forward with our students throughout their school career. I believe that we are making a wise decision by involving our students in the process of assessment as well as collaborating with our co-workers to make sure that we are providing the best possible outcomes for all students.

Defending our Assessment Practices

Why are we participating in the assessments that we use with our students?

For a long time we as teachers were under strict guidelines which inhibited our ability to design and incorporate responsive assessments that contributed to the learning environment and produced a fruitful outcome. The assessments of the past were designed with a competency score in mind without regard for how we were to get there. Our assessments need to be a collaboration of information, goals and instructional practices that will lead us to great scores and set a standard across our schools for student success.

Can you share in explicit detail the value that you find in each assessment?

Derived from my own experiences with pre-readers in Kindergarten, I find high value in assessments when they are given at the appropriate times throughout the course of the school year. I have been able to bring many struggling students especially those who have not had any school experience, up to a level which meets their goals for the year and allows them to be successful in the next grade. The key to this for Kindergarten students in particular is to design the assessment to meet individual goals and provoke student response in an unstressed way. By providing them with the opportunity to meet goals they set for themselves we are allowing the students to take ownership of how far they will go in reading and comprehension.

Do you participate in assessments that you find no value in for students?

Often times as educators we are asked to administer assessments that are not designed with our students best interest in mind. Take for example a popular assessment test that is given in the private school sect in which I teach- the Stanford Achievement Test. Although this is a great way to assess student progress if we are not teaching in a way that meets the educational goals of the test then our attempts are often times met with disappointment. Stanford provides materials that would automatically set teaching goals for us however- our school in particular does not provide us as teachers those resources so we inevitably end up teaching according to ACSI standards and TEKS standards. How do they even line up against the Stanford? I have a real issue with this.

The other issue is that we are giving this assessment at the end of the year and then not following through to evaluate performance outcomes with each individual student. This makes no sense. At our school we are passing out the Stanford scores along with the final report card and then expecting parents and students to understand it. This is an unreasonable way of allowing parents and students to see where they need help and how we as teachers can change our teaching styles to meet those needs. I believe that we are doing a dis service to our school by not administering an assessment that meets everyone's goals.

Are you using an assessment you have no idea how to deliver, but are afraid to ask for help with?

In our school we are currently administering an assessment exam that is not fair to the students that are participating. Delivering the assessment is not the issue it is the expectation that the assessment is requiring lining up with the content we are choosing to teach. I would venture to say that this misalignment is what causes a disconnect between our students potential and its perceived outcome.

Success and Failure in Student Assessments

As a teacher in a new school you may have found yourself unprepared to line up required materials with student assessments as I did. I chose not to blame the system or the materials we had to work with but rather I chose to learn from this years mistakes and make a more goal driven plan for the future. By doing this we are almost certainly changing the teaching style and content that is provided to students. This will ensure success for them in academics but moreover a basis for us to work from and towards the end result. This, no doubt, will change the outcome of student assessments and allow all of our students the ability to succeed.

Leslie A. Barreras- First Year Certified Teacher- Wichita Falls, TX

Leslie has taught in every grade level from PreK to 12th grade as a substitute teacher as well as a lead teacher in both early childhood and middle school. She is currently looking forward to teaching Kindergarten. She is a wife and mother to three beautiful children ages 11, 13 and 4. Her experience and training has provided her with a solid foundation for Christian Education and a passion for working with children of all age groups and diverse backgrounds.