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
After finishing teaching at Brown Summer High School, I believe I am beginning Brown University Practice-Based Standard Five: Assessment.
Throughout my past teaching experiences, I have been very conscious to make sure that students see the process of assessment as integral to their learning, formative in its structure, and celebratory in its end. I have employed a wide range of assessments, including traditional written final exams and research projects, progressive simulation performances, cumulative portfolios, and oral chapter exams, which appear scary to the majority of American students but were a key part of my personal Russian education. Yet, my past assessment tools lacked two very important components: not always did they check for students’ daily understanding, and their criteria were not always transparent and explicit.
Wiggins and McTighe write in their Understanding by Design: “To get beyond mere rote learning and recall, we have to be taught and be assessed on an ability to see patterns, so that we come to see many ‘new’ problems we encounter as variants of problems and techniques we are familiar with” (Wiggins, McTighe 40), and I could not agree more. The difficult thing for me is to implement this idea into my daily lesson plans. When I assess students’ understanding at the end of a semester, unit, or even class, I can create questions which will force them to apply their newly acquired knowledge to unfamiliar or forgotten situations, which regularly reveal students’ understandings or misunderstandings. However, in the course of a class, I find continuous assessment of understanding to be more difficult, although I whole-heartedly agree with the above-mentioned authors when they say that educators need “to be aggressive in assessing as [they] teach, uncovering the learners’ understandings and misunderstandings all along the way” (Wiggins, McTighe 247). I ask students to summarize what they have learned as we talk, I pause to give them time to write down a sentence that describes a new idea, I pose questions to different students, and I cold-call on reluctant participants, but these tactics do not seem enough.
The other area where my assessment skills need to improve concerns transparency of learning objectives I set for the class and my subsequent performance expectations. I need to make my objectives clearer, more ubiquitous, and an essential part of every lesson. As a result, I need to make sure students understand the direct relationship between assessment criteria set for their performance and learning objectives set for the class. If explicit learning objectives evidently guide everything that happens in the classroom – my teaching methodology, the materials I employ while teaching, the information I present to the students, and the activities in which they engage – it will be easy to explain and understand that the assessment process, too, follows the same logical path of expectations set by objectives.
The final area to which I need to pay extra attention is creating and using an effective rubric. Although I made a writing rubric for the class over the summer, I did not think it was clear or practical, and I did not manage to utilize it to the students' learning benefit. Even though the students were expected to follow the writing rubric in their final written pieces and I expected them to do so, I found it very difficult, as I was grading, to use the rubric myself. Although I was guided by the rubric's standards, I did not make this fact explicit to the students.
Thus, in order to improve my performance as I attempt to meet Standard V, I need to do the following:
1. I need to continue employing a wide range of assessment tools to check for students’ daily understanding. Brief summaries, “whips,” and exit tickets are some of the techniques I plan to use.
2. I need to keep lesson and unit objectives transparent, and I need to make the connection between objectives and assessments more explicit. To do this, I plan to continue emphasizing that the assessment process is part of learning, and objectives serve as a focus for both. And I plan to embrace objectives as a guiding force for the teaching and learning that happen in my classroom.
3. I need to continue researching various educational sources for an appropriate writing rubric which will be helpful to both the students and myself. I also need to be guided by a rubric when I grade students' work to make grading as objective as I can.