vendredi 25 mars 2011

Principles for Effective Classroom Assessment - Louis Volante

I have had many interesting conversations with a number of colleagues throughout my career about assessment. Early on, I was overwhelmed and lacked confidence in what and how I evaluated. At times, I have been excited about the way I was evaluating, just to be straightened out by my peers who were able to see the whole picture. My vision of assessment was fuzzy at best. At long last, the blur is fading and lending way to a more focused view of where I am heading.

As a middle years team in my school, we have rummaged through the curriculum guides and filtered out the essential learning outcomes in the various content areas. I am increasingly aware that the content is less important than the skills and attitudes that accompany a lifelong learner - which is what we are encouraging after all. The content provides us with a means to explore and develop these skills as the student becomes more and more independent.

Having done this, we are finally on the same page (or at least in the same chapter) and heading in a common direction. We know what a student will experience from one year to the next and this continuum helps us to be aware of what other teachers are doing. Students will see their education as a continuous flow rather than bits and pieces of information thrown at them over the years.

So, I now know what I need to assess, things that matter. And I know that I need to assess for specific reasons. To be sure I am assessing for the right reason, I ask myself the three following questions:

  1. Will this assessment help guide me to teach better (or differently) in order to meet the needs of my students?
  2. Is this assessment useful to promote learning? That is, does the student learn from having experienced it and is he or she able to improve upon what has been learned for the next phase of learning?
  3. And finally, how does this assessment allow me to accurately report to parents on the achievement of their child?
The articles I have read and the seminars I have attended have common research evidence. They all seem to agree on the principles of assessment and attitudes which are necessary to create a healthy climate which promotes learning in the classroom. The latest article (by Louis Volante) focuses on these seven principles, which I list below. The articles to follow will discuss them in further detail.

The seven principles include the need for classroom assessment to be:
  • student-centered
  • aligned with clear learning targets
  • based on multiple methods
  • able to account for a variety of student skills
  • aimed at reducing bias
  • reliable and valid
  • efficient
Taking this research and applying it to my classroom will bring me closer to my whole picture vision that has been my aim for years. Knowing how to "look" is the first step in "seeing".

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