Standards and Assessment

Standards and Assessment – A few random thoughts for this week’s #edublogsclub prompt.

I’ve taught with and without standards, but I prefer and believe we need standards-based education.

I also believe we need standards-based grading. We should be able to look at the standard and using descriptive narration tell how the student is and isn’t meeting the standard. It seems simple to me. However, I spend so much of my precious preparation time grading and recording numbers around learning. Sometimes numbers make sense, like recording how many sight words this child can read. More often than not, though, numbers don’t give any added information. For instance, in the following standards, how can a number help us know what the child can do?

Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.

Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tense.

Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

I think a number does not show growth. Numbers tend to stop conversation. The student and parent are either happy or unhappy with the number, but not much else is discussed except the number.

Tomorrow we will have Student Learning Presentations, where parents, teacher and student come together and report learning. It’s a beautiful thought, but I know from experience, the numbers will trip us up at times.

This year one of the goals of our School Improvement Plan is “All students at Al Raja School in grades KG-5 will improve reading and writing in English.” We have chosen to measure our success on this goal using the fall and spring scores on our computerized standardized test: Measures of Academic Progress (MAP).

Last year we had only 26% of that age group make annual yearly progress. This year at the winter midpoint, I’ve just stopped to look at the data I had so far. This winter, we had 46% meet or exceed their progress goals.

So, there is an assessment that helps us see if we are growing. I’m pleased with the progress so far, but not satisfied, of course. We have work to do.

Fortunately for us, we aren’t driven by tests. We are new to standardized tests. It’s only our second year taking the MAP. We look at the data, and try to let it help us get to know, teach, and help our students, but it’s not the only measure.

I still hope we can eliminate grades and use paper and digital work, photos, video, stories and other evidence of the students’ learning to report about their learning.

I guess I feel the way we take the MAP test can help in that reporting, as well.

What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Standards and Assessment

  1. Such a big question for such a sunny day, but I have been wrestling with… why don’t the students look like they are progressing on the standardized tests and … how else are we showing the progress we have made. Two thoughts, the students aren’t secure enough with the tasks…yet to transfer them to this different experience. 2nd thought, for whatever reasons, tests still feel like tests, no matter what we do. Perhaps that’s the same thought.

  2. Yes, Susan, you are right. Real life progress would always be preferred. So, true–tests still feel like tests. Some students hate them and others are stressed by them. Still others say they don’t try, so I know it can’t do all we hope they would do.

    Also, I don’t want the students and teachers to get stressed out trying to make sure they do better on the next round of tests. We know the damage that can be done when the tests are too high stacks.

    Thanks for sharing,

  3. That nails it — numbers may tell the students they need to do something but not what — and, contrary to popular practice, not solvable by rubric. This may seem OT but reminds me of scoring performance sports like dressage, skating, gymnastics, diving, etc. The number ranks, the coach evaluates the individual (not always the same reason for the same score) and comes up with a corrective regimen…the talented (and intuitive) coach knows that a low score reflects that particular performance, not necessarily ability, skill or potential

  4. Thank you, Vanessa. It doesn’t seem off topic at all. I see the connection with the scores given by judges. It is a great example of when a number is given. The athlete would want it to be instructive, but without a talented coach, as you said, it won’t help them improve their performance the next time.

    Thank you,

  5. Yes! To all–both your post and the comments. We need to better create a portfolio-based system. That is how we operate as adults, why aren’t we treating our kids the same way? It’s like a parallel universe. So much work to do!

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