My teaching passion has always been in reading and writing. But it is so difficult to assess these areas effectively. I have definitely figured that out in my placement classroom because my students are on so many different levels in their literacy development. We have learned about formative and summative assessments in our previous courses. But after reading chapter 9 in Flint, it was great to get a deeper look into how to make assessments more beneficial.
Summative assessments often get a bad rap because of NCLB, EOG’s, and other standardized tests that force many teachers to teach for the test rather than for understanding. I think it is such a shame that it has come down to this, but school systems must have a way to determine student and school growth and performance. It is up to the teachers to promote student understanding while also teaching them to apply that knowledge to perform well on the test.
The reading also made me think critically about the purpose of teacher assessments. We don’t make students take tests or complete projects and activities just so we can write another number in the grade book. Classroom-based assessments are meant to inform teachers of student’s progress and what information still needs to be taught (or retaught). If lessons are truly based on students’ previous knowledge and understanding, then they are catered to students’ learning needs rather than simply taught in order from a book.
People often shoot-down traditional, formal assessments. But I think that multiple choice tests are actually very beneficial and helpful in moderation. They provide the clearest insight into what students know (or at least what they can tell you in this format). Of course, I believe wholeheartedly in other informal assessments such as presentations, projects, journaling, running records, group discussions, and conferences. The teacher must constantly assess in many different ways so that he or she can gain the most complete view of students’ understanding.
I am teaching my first guided reading lessons this Wednesday. One is with our lowest student, an ELL, and the other with a higher group. I am still trying to figure out whe best way for me to assess the students’ understanding in a way that I can convey to my CT so that she can use the information to plan her future instruction with them. I am curious to see the different challenges each situation will bring.