Meeting Teacher Leader Standard 11 – Utilize Formative and Summative Assessments in a Standards Environment, took me on a reflective journey of my teaching practice. Having been a teacher for a number of years, it has been a long time since I took such a critical view of the assessments I was giving. We simply gave the test, used the data, and moved on. To meet this standard it meant I needed to go deeper. I needed to be sure the tests that are provided to me by our curriculum and district are really testing the standards that I expect my students to achieve. I needed to look at an even bigger scope and ask, what do the key organizations which helped create the standards say about what my students should know. Finally, I needed to focus on what to do with the data the assessments provided and determine my next steps in instruction to my students.
At the beginning of our course, Standards Based Assessment (EDU 6613) I was asked, “What do I know about assessment?” That was a great question. I felt like I knew a lot, but at the same time in trying to form that answer I realized it was sort of a canned response. I know there are formative and summative assessments. I know that assessment should be timely and on-going. I know that assessment should give me feedback on what my students know, what they don’t know, and what my next steps in teaching should be. There are good assessments and not good assessments. Valid and invalid may be a better way to say that. There are many different kinds of assessments as well. Tests of all kinds; multiple choice, short answer, essay, performance, hands on, standardized, etc. In assessment there is a difference between standards based assessment vs. traditional percentage based assessments. This an area that I identified that I struggle in especially when trying to take former percentage based assessments and make them standards based. Leveling of questions, weighting questions or assessments (quizzes vs. weekly tests vs. unit tests) are all very difficult to do and an area that I wanted to grow in.
I began by asking myself, “What do I want my students to learn?” This first critical question can be answered by starting at the standards. In my case, the CCSS for 3rd grade math. I spent time reading and researching the standards that I wanted my students to meet. Additionally, I researched the National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) to find out what they have determined as the key learnings for 3rd grade math. In my research of the NCTM standards I was pleased to find that NCTM has adopted the CCSS as their standards as well. In addition, they have published a resource for teachers and administrators to aid in the implementation of the CCSS in schools. This book titled Principles in Action, “Builds on NCTM’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics and supports implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics to attain much higher levels of mathematics achievement for all students.” NCTM also issued the following statement regarding the CCSS – “The widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) presents an unprecedented opportunity for systemic improvement in mathematics education in the United States.” — NCTM CCSSM Position Statement Module 1
After I determined the standards my students should be achieving I asked myself, “How will I know when my students have learned it?” To answer this question I looked to the tests themselves, the rubrics, and scoring guides. What information would these assessments give me? What standards were they testing and to what learning level – Knowledge, Reasoning, Skill, or Product. In order to track their learning and determine that my students had met the standards I used portfolios. I questioned how I might authentically use portfolios in the teaching of my unit. I had to decide what kind of portfolio would best demonstrate assessment for student learning and would work best with my learning targets for the unit covered in the exam. The type of portfolio that I believed would work best for my unit was the growth portfolio. The key statement from our reading that helped me choose this portfolio was, “The student writes a self-reflection to summarize growth: ‘Here’s how far I’ve come and here’s what I know and can do now that I couldn’t before’ or ‘I used to.., but now I…” (Stiggins, et. al, 2012) Since I was using a learning target tracking sheet in my unit and each day students would be demonstrating achievement of the daily learning target and documenting their own growth and learning, turning this into a portfolio with artifacts to also document their growth toward the overall learning targets, seemed like a natural progression.
The evidence we collected in the pre-assessment gave us baseline data and information students needed to track their learning and growth. This helped them answer the statement, “I used to…, but now I…” Next, we collected each of the formative assessment quizzes that we took during the unit (quick checks). Those quizzes ensured a representative sample of student work because they were done independently, teacher corrected, and spread out over the course of the unit. Those represented “typical work” of the students as many of the questions are similar to our daily work which students had been learning and practicing with. I also had my students self-select one artifact from their daily work that they felt showed progress and growth toward their learning targets. Particularly if they did poorly on a quiz for that learning target, but they had work to show they had made growth. Module 3
All of these forms of assessment and the rich data they provide gave me the ability to determine if my students had met the standards I was teaching them. This data also allowed me to know when a student didn’t meet the standard and prompted me to ask myself, “How will I respond when some students do not learn it?” Without Pre-assessment – knowing where my students begin, Formative assessment – knowing where my students are along the way, and Summative assessment – knowing my students learned and met the standards, I can’t answer that third critical question and develop an intervention plan to meet each student’s needs in the standards they have still not mastered.
Finally, pre-assessment is the way to determine if my students already know and have met the standards. I used that assessment data to save precious instruction time from being wasted teaching them something they already knew and created an enrichment program to challenge and deepen their working knowledge of the standards.
My Final Lesson and Assessment Plans, 3rd Grade enVision Topic 03 Assessment with highlights, 3rd Grade enVision Topic 04 Assessment with highlights, all show the culmination of my learning in Teacher Leader Standard 11. In my future work as a principal, I am excited to share this working knowledge with my staff as we use assessments and data to set student growth goals and continuous improvement (CIP) goals for our school. Learning and doing the work myself I believe has provided me with more than a book knowledge, but has moved me into a working skill and product level of learning where I am now ready to teach and lead others in this standard. My principal has supported this work by providing training and consistent time solely dedicated to PLC work. Those are two things I want to take forward to my staff as well.
Arter, Judith; Chappuis, Jan; Chappuis, Steve; Stiggins, Rick. (2011) Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing It Right, Using It Well. Pearson,
Charles, Randall I., Janet H. Caldwell, and Mary Cavanaugh. EnVisionMath Common Core. Glenview, IL: Pearson Education, 2012. Print.
Common Core State Standards http://www.corestandards.org/.
Jacobs, Heidi Hayes. Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2010. Print.
Marzano, Robert. (2009) Formative Assessment and Standards-Based Grading: Classroom Strategies That Work. Solution Tree
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics – http://www.nctm.org/
O’Connor, Ken. (2009) How to Grade for Learning, K-12. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin
Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website for Washington state http://www.k12.wa.us/Curriculuminstruct/
Stiggins, Richard J., Judith A. Arter, Jan Chappuis, and Stephen Chappuis. Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing It Right — Using It Well. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007. Print.
Wiggins, Grant P., and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005. Print.