ASSESS, PROVIDE FEEDACK AND REPORT ON STUDENT LEARNING
5.1: Assess student learning
5.3: Make consistent and comparable judgments
In relation to Standard 5 I believe that:
“Great feedback to encourage reading with expresion.”
7 August 2013
Every student needs comprehensive assessment that encompasses assessment for learning, assessment as learning and assessment of learning (MCEETYA, 2008). With these three focuses, teachers are able to evaluate student progress and adjust teaching to suit individuals, enable students to take responsibilty for their learning and collect the necessary evidence to assess and report on achievements measured against standards. The curriculum supports this goal as per Wiggins & McTighe (2005) philosophy of laying out a specific and clear path to achieve a desired result. Providing effective feedback is essential to student learning and I agree with Wiliam (2010) that comments shoud be emphasised above grades to facilitate new learning. For comments to have maximum effect marking must be timely (Wiggins, 1998). By providing information about where a student is with their learning and what to do next (Brookhart, 2008), feedback eases concerns for students and parents. It is also vital on occasion, to give the opportunity to students to show their full potential, by matching the assessment to each students preferred learning method (Sternberg, 1997). Finally, we need to assess with reliability, validity, absence of bias and accommodate diversity, using authentic assessment with flexibility and fairness.
During my third practical experience I planned, taught and assessed (5.1, 5.3) an ACARA Science unit on Electricity (ACSSU097) to a composite Year 6/7 class of 24 students. Located in a small urban school south of Brisbane, significant cultural diversity existed in the class, with 58% of students speaking languages other than English. Academically, apart from a few high achievers, most students were historically low to medium level achievers (5.3) with a lack of engagement and behavioural challenges. This unit was also the focus of an authentic summative assessment strategy assignment (5.1, 5.3) for EDG3000 Designing for Diversity. After reflection, I was able to use my learning and experience from this unit and develop further (assessment skills) in a subsequent science unit Earth and Space (ACSSU115) with the same class.
I conducted informal diagnostic assessment via student conversations, examining previous work examples and conversations with my mentor teacher. Backwards design (Wiggins & McTighe,1998) was employed for both these learning episodes to help achieve the learning objectives and enable student performance. By establishing the curriculum KLA’s, the understanding students needed to gain from the unit (5A, p.5-7), specific learning outcomes and learning context, authentic summative assessment tasks (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998; 5A, p.7-8) were planned for assessment evidence (5.1). Informal assessment (5A, p.8) were planned through observation and the regular checking of project work with verbal feedback provided. Formative assessment (5A, p.8), the heart if effective teaching (Black & Wiliam’s, 1998), was given bi-weekly through exit quizzes to check knowledge of key concepts and help prepare students for the final assessments. This aligns with Dempster (1991) who espoused the virtue of testing soon after material is learnt and retesting later especially using cumulative questions to apply previous information to new problems. Diagnostic (5A, p.8) Groups of students will be identified for specific review activities based on their results on these quizzes. Feedback on learning journals was given same day or next day in the second unit (Wiggins, 1998) and questions more focused on learning and how confident students felt with their learning and what they needed to adjust to reach their goals.
When reviewing content of the unit it became apparent that the understanding of some topics wasinsufficient. In the subsequent unit I improved my formative assessment skills by employing the check for understanding (CFU) TAPPLE (State of California Department of Education, 2013) system of questioning to monitor student learning while teaching.
Summative assessment from both units consisted of a combination of test, group and project work, plus for electricity an electrical circuit diagnostic authentic exercise (5C).Tests had a full marking schema (5E) with allotted marks per question and each part of questions. In the second unit I used the experience from first unit to improve the format and wording of the test for ESL students, providing meanings to words and terminology used in questions and examples of answers. A variety of objective testing questions were also included in the second unit from multiple choice, true/false and fill-in-the-blank style questions to provide variety and lower anxiety (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2010). Both unit group tasks (5A, p. 12-13; 5J, p. 23-24) contained rubrics to ensure fairness and validity of assessments and ensure consistent and comparable judgments were made.
In the first unit test, a few students did very well, while two were well below expectations (5B). In the second unit, most students performed very well (5F, 5G, 5H), and all students passed (5.1, 5.4). I found that TAPPLE really helped pinpoint areas of low understanding during lessons, varied revision strategies helped with student recall and understanding and the extra terminology explainations in the second unit test (5D) resulted in far less questions asked during exam time. The struggling students performance improved markedly and the feedback from students at the end of the unit was excellent. All the students were keen to get their tests and project marks back and were proud of their efforts.
When I began the GDTL, I was not impressed with the idea of reflection, but my opinion has changed 180o after my own reflective experiences and seeing the results from students. I would like to include student self-reflection in future rubrics where the students have a chance to score themselves and make a comment about what they can improve (5K; Woolfolk & Margetts, 2010 p.560) before the teacher marks the work and add reflection opportunities during class work with checklists and explanations of problem solving and research choices. I wish to read more from Guskey 1994, considering the possibility (when appropriate) of grading work as incomplete rather than awarding a failing grade, and providing students with support to revise or improve their efforts. Of course it is also important for students to learn that rewards come from work and application, so if a good mark is not warranted, they need to adjust their learning habits to gain the results they aspire to.
Black & Wiliam. (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 86(1), pp.9-21.
Brokers of Expertise. State of California Department of Education. (2013) Introduction: checking for understanding (TAPPLE). http://www.myboe.org/portal/default/Content/Viewer/Content?action=2&scId=100030
Brookhart, M. (2008). How to give effective feedback to your students (pp. 10-30). Retrieved from http://ezproxy.usq.edu.au/login?url=http://site.ebrary.com/lib/unisouthernqld/Doc?id=10250492.
Dempster, F. (1991). Synthesis of research on reviews and tests. In Woolfolk, A. & Margetts, K. (Page 543) (2010). Educational Psychology. 2nd edition. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.
Guskey, T.R. (1994). Making the grade: what benefits students? Educational Leadership, 52(2), 14-21.
Wiggins, G. (1998). Education Assessment. Jossey-Bass Education Series. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons
Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD).
Wood, K. E. (2010). Interdisciplinary instruction for all learners K-8 : A practical guide. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Woolfolk, A. & Margetts, K. (2010). Educational Psychology. 2nd edition. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.