Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do Our Students Really Know the Purpose of Assessments in School?

Here are two students, Nick and Sarah, trying to explain why they took a formative reading and math assessment today. Unfortunately neither one can really answer the question.

Here is Dale giving a pretty good explanation of why we assess.

If we spend so much time assessing students, shouldn't they understand the purpose of the assessment? When I think about the years I spend assessing students without giving them a good reason for the assessment (either by explaining what I hoped to learn or by using that information to help make decisions in class) I feel bad. What is a teacher's responsibility in regards to the students and their assessments?


Magpie Ima said...

You've touched on a major issue for me. I work with adolescent beginning level ESL students in an alternative high school program. We are required to give ELPA annually and it is one of the more ridiculous, disheartening things we do. The test is inappropriate for my students in so many ways and they find it extremely discouraging. Neither teachers not students ever see the results and I have no desire to let my students know they are just jumping through hoops. And it takes away from instructional time--maddening!

Wm Chamberlain said...

Last year we took our state test over 3 weeks. It was very difficult to have normal school during or even afterward. While I felt my class was somewhat productive, it was not anywhere near what we had been doing before.

jkmcclung said...

When I think about standardized testing, it is suppose to be testing a student's natural ability in a given subject....but schools and educators blow it up until it becomes this huge monster. We draw it out for three weeks, hold pep rallys, testing day themes, teachers do proformances, etc. Education has done this to the point that it can no longer be natural. We (educators) put such a high value on the test that in a lot of schools that is the culmination of the school year. Last year we had about a month left of school and it was impossible to teach anything of value those last weeks.

This is becuase we beg and beg the students to perform for us one time a year and we do not give them just reason for doing so. This is a real hot subject and I believe that we need to revalute the way we approach testing....the test itself should not become larger than school.

John Strange said...

I have a lot I could say on these issues. It would far exceed the 140 character limit if the new culture. How brief can I be?
1. We need to identify what we want our students to:
2. At what minimum level of ability
3. What kindS (plural) of evidence we will accept
4. How those end results can be obtained (and the routes should be different for different folks).

The WE below really means all persons interested in a good education for their kids, their students, their community. This means teachers, students, administrators, citizens, politicians, rule makers in general:

We need to listen to Sir Ken Robinson again.
We need to watch Michael Wesch's report on what college students think of their classes
We need to observe truly great teachers in action. I have never personally met any of those listed in the right hand column of this blog, but that is an excellent place to start. I know. I have visited all of them - through technology
We need to remind ourselves of what we do not know by watching Did You Know?

I'm over 140 characters, and probably 140 words so I'll stop. But I think I may write a book for parents and administrators, or do a video. Or maybe WE will (teachers and students alike).

Keep setting the standard and leading the way, Mr. Chamberlain!