STANDARD V – ASSESSMENT
The student teacher demonstrates knowledge of a variety of approaches to assessment and evaluation. Assessment is seen as integral to the curriculum and instruction process and employs a repertoire of formal and informal methods. "Traditional" tests and essays, as well as performances, exhibitions, and portfolios which allow students to demonstrate what they know in a variety of media and technology are used. Students are also given various opportunities to self-assess progress and their classroom work is guided by known criteria and standards developed by the student teacher with the class (or with the class' knowledge). A focus on continuous student improvement in skills and content knowledge is emphasized and grading reflects that objective.
Teacher Education Handbook, Secondary Education 2011-2012
I believe I am meeting Brown University Practice-Based Standard Five: Assessment.
I have always found assessment to be the most challenging area of teaching, and I used my time as a student teacher to experiment with various ways of assessing student learning.
I learned from my mentor, Ruth Marris-Macaulay, that the much feared "end-of-the-unit test" does not need to be feared not a test. I followed her example and engaged the students in a game of jeopardy at the end of the first unit we studied. The assessment became fun for the students, which neutralized their anxiety, yet it provided me with a solid diagnostic of their understanding. At the end of the second unit, I decided to introduce a much feared oral assessment. I wanted to give the students a chance to see for themselves how much they had learned and how well they could talk about their knowledge with a teacher. It was an effective assessment, and the students reflected that they had learned a lot from it. The only challenging thing about it was grading: the grades seemed rather inflated, although I followed a rubric. When I shared this experience with my colleagues as my Micro-Teaching Presentation, they suggested I bring a written component into the assessment, too, to be completed for a grade by the end of the class.
To assess students' writing competence and analytical skills, I assigned one writing project a week. Students received a handout with expectations on Monday and submitted their finished work on Friday. In their final reflection, several students commented on this time frame as very effective: they appreciated a week to think about their assignments, ask me questions, and complete their work.
To bring clarity into my expectations, I used the SAT Timed Essay writing rubric. I found it to be an effective tool to guide the students towards explicit expectations, which will be practical in their academic future as they prepare for standardized exams. After the first rubric-guided assignment, I gave the students a chance to improve their work and re-write their piece. Most of them took advantage of this opportunity, which led to a more attentive reading of the rubric and a stronger performance on subsequent assignments.
To assess the students' daily understandings, I used daily entrance tickets and regular exit tickets. I also asked many questions in the course of the classes to have an informal check of students' understanding, the responses to which become part of students' class participation effort.
One key area where my assessment skills needed to improve concerned expectations. I have been working on this aspect, and I think I have finally mastered a student-friendly language. I also found it effective to go over assignments in class to make sure everyone had a chance to hear other students’ questions and clarify their own.