This page will demonstrate my learning surrounding assessment and evaluation from this semester! It will be based on four areas, which I will answer from my personal and professional experiences during the last four months.
1. Describe your philosophy of assessment and evaluation. In describing your philosophy, you are expected to address the theory and practice studied this semester.
My philosophy of assessment and evaluation has changed significantly this semester because of the information I learned in this class, and evidence of this can be found throughout my blog, especially within “Assessment and Evaluation: My Learning Journey.” I realized that all of my pre-conceived notions about how to run my classroom and be a stickler for punctuality and grading practices were just that, whimsical notions about something I really knew nothing about. Through the responses to Anne Davies’ text, research for my case studies, and using assessment and evaluation in my pre-internship, I learned that assessment and evaluation are not issues that should have any whimsical ideas attached to them. These issues need to be carefully thought about and the practices you adopt as a teacher will say more about your character and understanding of these topics than I previously realized. I have always wanted to be an ally for my students, someone who would be approachable when there is a problem and help is needed, but who on earth would approach someone who was so stern and unforgiving in their educational practice?
I want my students to be involved in all areas of my classroom, including the assessment and evaluation. I did not have or utilize the opportunity to include my students in these areas as I would have liked, but in the future I know that I will. Simply giving the students forms to complete for feedback and a rubric to give a grade can make student more involved in the peer-editing and revising session for the essay, or oral presentations. I believe that students who normally do not achieve higher than mid 60s to mid 70s can excel with the support of a teacher, quality feedback and the chance to re-do their assignment for a better grade. If the students are willing to put in more effort, I will always be willing to do whatever I can to assist the students. If they are not willing to put in more effort, I feel like it is part of my job to motivate them to do so, and perhaps try other assessment techniques to understand their learning better.
Another belief I have is not including absences or lates with grades. These are two separate issues, and as such should be dealt with separately. As more research is conducted and I learn more, I will learn ways to deal with absences and lates that do not affect a student’s overall grade. I will also only average marks that are similar, not assignments that do not correspond together in any way.This way I will have a more accurate grade for a student (please refer to my case study for additional information under “Assessment and Evaluation: My Learning Journey”).
I also think it is important to be clear when you set expectations. Students should have the opportunity to ask questions, and teachers should always be able to justify why they are using a method or instructional strategy or assignment. The evidence of learning should directly correspond to learning outcomes from the curriculum guide. This means that while an activity covers one outcome for a particular prompt, the same activity used for a different purpose may not cover the same prompt, and so should not be averaged together (i.e. journal entries with a specific focus).
When marking student work it is absolutely critical to mark against a standard (i.e. rubric) rather than previous work or another student. Furthermore, the rubric must actually apply to the assignment or the results are useless and incorrect. This means adjusting the rubric may be necessary once grading has begun and you realize it does not work for this assignment. It is also important to rely on assignments that have quality (i.e. an essay or large project) rather than those that fail to meet the standards of quality (i.e. journal entries and exit slips). This is similar to what I mean when I say that summative work should be assessed but not the formative assessment, because this is the process of assessment during learning and so it is not accurate to grade these assessments. Additionally, this grading should be timely to be the most beneficial for student learning. It must also provide constructive feedback in order for the student to improve. Another important thing to remember is to gather assessments from a variety of sources (triangulation).
Above all else, never, never, never give a student a zero for incomplete work. In my pre-internship several students failed to hand in the essay assignment and nothing was entered, thus their mark was not affected negatively for not completing the assignment on time.
2. Describe how you used assessment and evaluation in your field experience. Consider how you used formative and summative assessment, what assessment/evaluation tools you used, how you involved students in the assessment/evaluation process, differentiation and accommodations you made for equitable assessment/evaluation, etc.
This question can be answered from my section “Assessment and Evaluation Experiences” under the “Pre-Internship” heading for a complete list of the tools I used, and how they worked. The assessment practices I used included: Discussion, Fist of Five, Exit Slips, Journal Entries, Reader Response Questions, a Problem-Solution Essay (including the writing process: Purpose Statement, Outline, and a Peer-editing and revising session), Annotation, Spoken Word Performances, Resumes, and a Visual Flow Chart (similar to a Venn Diagram). I involved students in these practices by combining them with instructional strategies like TAPS, I do-We do- You do, Think-Pair-Share, jigsaw, and buzz groups. During the essay process I provided more additional feedback and explicit instruction to EAL students, and I did not mark their grammar and word choice on the same level as students who have the advantage of speaking English as their first language. I also made an adaptive assignment in my Life Transitions 20 class for the EAL and FIAP students that needed a different type of assignment. I focused their assignment on scaffolding what they already knew about the mental health diseases depression and anxiety. While the other students completed a flow chart based on picking out the characteristics of each and similarities and differences, these students were given 10 words that they could define using their own words. The EAL students were encouraged to use their translators to first find the meaning of the word and then write their own definitions in English, with an option to use illustrations as well.
3. How closely did your assessment and evaluation practices in the field align with your philosophy? If there were discrepancies between your philosophies and practice, describe the barriers that prevented you from realizing your vision. Describe how you might address/overcome these barriers in your internship.
I was able to give a ton of feedback to my students, both in oral and written form. This was one of my major concerns and I was able to follow through with my intentions, as well as praise from my cooperating teacher, and thanks from my students. One thing that I would have liked to do is give less evaluation. Three weeks is a short time, and during that time we assigned a lot of grades, especially for my ELA B10 class. It is hard to engage students in the work when the assignments are not for marks, but I believe that a few of the smaller things we marked (i.e. the purpose statements) did not need to receive a mark, or if so it should have been included in the overall process, not an individual 5 marks for completion. I think working through a process towards an end project should be worth more (value wise) than the steps taken to get there. It makes sense to me to complete the assignment as we did, having a teacher-student conference for the purpose statement (which then became the thesis statement/argument for the essay), and then take in the outlines to be assessed. What I would change is not giving a mark on that. Students would still be able to hand it back to me to check for errors, but I would rather mark the essay as a whole process rather than the individual steps. I also did not agree entirely with the marking system, because I wasn’t sure how to give students a mark that was objective without a rubric that highlighted the qualities each level of writing should have. If I were to use this assignment in my Internship, and I would like to as it was received well and students worked very hard on it, I would propose to use a rubric that I could design myself based off of the curriculum website. I have altered those rubrics before for unit plans that I have submitted for a course, and in theory it works well. Trial and error will decide on what rubric I would ultimately use, but as aforementioned, it should be more objective and less of a judgement call. One of my goals was to use “check ins” with my students as often as was possible. I was able to complete this and keep it interesting by using a variety of techniques: thumbs up or thumbs down, fist of five, journal entries and exit slips.
4. Based on ECS 410 and your field experience, what are the 3 key learnings you have taken away from this semester about assessment and evaluation? Why will these 3 things be so important to your teaching practice?
There is a ton of information from this class that I will carry forward with me, but the ideas that I feel are most important and will be reflected in my teaching practice are the no zero policy, the no late marks policy, providing more constructive feedback during formative assessment (without grading) and using more summative evaluation of the learning. As I have said before, the educational practices you subscribe to as a teacher reflects your character and understanding of policies that affect students’ learning. I will be following the no zero policy because I have come to understand that zeros do not accurately reflect the student’s knowledge of the content. Instead, I will use symbols such as “NHI” or “IP” to show that the student’s assignment has not yet been graded. I will also refuse to take marks off student work for being late. There are other ways to deal with these issues, rather than altering a student’s grade. If it does not reflect an accurate grading technique, I will do my best to recognize it and change it for the student’s benefit. I also want to provide constructive feedback to my students. I will give this feedback both orally and in writing, as well as have students give each other feedback. When possible, I would like to ask parents or guardians to give their child or charge feedback also. This will ensure that each student is receiving appropriate feedback from a variety of sources and perspectives. In addition, I want to use more summative evaluation of the learning, because I have come to believe that it is not accurate to constantly grade the learning as it happens; rather, it is more accurate to evaluate students after the learning has occurred. These practices will be important to my teaching because it will help me to establish more positive relationships with students, and help them to realize that I want to help them, not harm or punish them. It could even change where I decide to accept a job, based on whether schools have polices that support or hinder my beliefs. I will also continue to do research and try to change the minds of my colleagues who do not subscribe to these new found beliefs. Perhaps I will realize in 5, 10, or 30 years that these were not the most important lessons I learned during this class, but for now these lessons are the focus of my developing teacher persona, and to me that’s pretty important.