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approaches besides tests and quizzes. He urged teachers to sample learning by collecting products of their efforts throughout the year. That practice has evolved into what is today termed "authentic assessment," which encompasses a range of approaches including portfolio assessment, journals and logs, products, videotapes of performances, and projects. Authentic assessments have many potential benefits. Diane Hart, in her excellent introduction to Authentic Assessment: A Handbook for Educators, suggested the following benefits: 1. Students assume an active role in the assessment process. This shift in emphasis may result in reduced test anxiety and enhanced self-esteem. 2. Authentic assessment can be successfully used with students of varying cultural backgrounds, learning styles, and academic ability. 3. Tasks used in authentic assessment are more interesting and reflective of students' daily lives. 4. Ultimately, a more positive attitude toward school and learning may evolve. 5. Authentic assessment promotes a more student-centered approach to teaching. 6. Teachers assume a larger role in the assessment process than through traditional testing programs. This involvement is more likely to assure the evaluation process reflects course goals and objectives. 7. Authentic assessment provides valuable information to the teacher on student progress as well as the success of instruction. 8. Parents will more readily understand authentic assessments than the abstract percentiles, grade equivalents, and other measures of standardized tests. Authentic assessments are new to most students. They may be suspicious at first; years of conditioning with paper-pencil tests, searching for the single right answer, are not easily undone. Authentic assessments require a new way of perceiving learning and evaluation. The role of the teacher also changes. Specific assignments or tasks to be evaluated and the assessment criteria need to be clearly identified at the start. It may be best to begin on a small scale. Introduce authentic assessments in one area (for example, on homework assignments) and progress in small steps as students adapt. Develop a record-keeping system that works for you. Try to keep it simple, allowing students to do as much of the work as feasible. Types of Authentic Assessment Performance Assessment Portfolio Assessment Self-Assessment http://www.teachervision.fen.com/assessment/resource/5944.html
Performance Assessment Performance assessments require students to demonstrate mastery of a skill or procedure by performing it. Performance assessment has long been a part of the curriculum in certain courses. Directly evaluating a student's sewing, welding, dancing, typing, piano playing, or woodworking is not a new concept. Direct assessments have the advantage of greater validity as the objective being assessed is observed directly. Indirect measures, such as a paper-and-pencil test on cooking a souffle, may not accurately predict how well a person would perform baking a real souffle. Performance assessments are more useful in assessing complex skills and high-level understanding. Though not new, the trend toward including live performances and products in educational assessment schemes has grown in recent years. The growing interest in performance or authentic assessments is largely a reaction to the limitations and disparities of paper-pencil tests. 1. The specific events or activities to be assessed are content specific and emerge from the course objectives. The tasks may be very brief or long and complex. The performance tasks may be completed individually or in groups. 2. Problem-solving tasks related to real-world problems are often used in performance assessments. They may be embedded in a simulated or case study scenario. 3. Some schools have adapted a "rite of passage" experience, often required for graduation (Hart, 1994). These might consist of mastery exhibits, oral presentations, a resume, essays, products, artwork, and role plays. 4. Any performance task can also be evaluated by peers. It is essential to provide a checklist with the evaluative criteria listed with some form of rating scale for each criterion. Hart, D. (1994). Authentic Assessment: A Handbook for Educators. Menlo Park, CA; Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.
What Is Alternative Assessment? The term alternative assessment is broadly defined as any assessment method that is an alternative to traditional paper-and-pencil tests. Alternative assessment requires students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge that cannot be assessed using a timed multiplechoice or true-false test. It seeks to reveal students' critical-thinking and evaluation skills by asking students to complete open-ended tasks that often take more than one class period to complete. While fact-based knowledge is still a component of the learning that is assessed, its measurement is not the sole purpose of the assessment. Alternative assessment is almost always teacher-created and is inextricably tied to the curriculum studied in class. The form of assessment is usually customized to the students and to the subject matter itself. What does Alternative Assessment look like? Alternative assessment takes many different forms, according to the nature of the skills and knowledge being assessed. Students are usually asked to demonstrate learning by creating a product, such as an exhibition or oral presentation, or performing a skill, such as conducting an experiment or demonstration. Three variations of alternative assessment are performance-based assessment, authentic assessment, and portfolio assessment. In any given situation, more than one form may be involved. A brief description of each follows. Performance Assessment This terms refers to the range of assessment activities that give the teacher the opportunity to observe students completing tasks using the skills being assessed. For example, in a science class, rather than take a multiple-choice test about scientific experiments, students actually conduct a lab experiment and write about their process and choices in a lab report. Authentic Assessment This approach attempts to connect assessment with the real world. It requires students to apply skills and knowledge to the creation of a product or performance that applies to situations outside the school environment. Biology teachers may assess students' understanding of the scientific process and collaboration by having students take part in an annual Audubon Society collection and analysis of local songbird populations. Portfolio Assessment Portfolios usually are comprised of work that has been completed over an entire grading period or semester. Teachers using portfolios require students to review their work and select items that best demonstrate that learning objectives have been met. Often students also write an essay reflecting on what they have learned, including the processes they have used to meet their goals. Portfolios can be paper-based, computer-based, or a combination of both. Ultimately, they should be judged against a predetermined set of criteria and will provide evidence of the learning that has occurred over time. How Does It Differ from Traditional Assessment? In each of these types of assessments, sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between study and assessment. This is a hallmark of alternative assessment. Part of the purpose is to make assessment a more meaningful learning experience. However, ascertaining mastery of a skill or subject is still the key objective of assessment. Teachers usually grade products and performances using a scoring rubric. The rubric consists of a set of detailed standards and explicit criteria to which the performance or product will be compared. Students are provided the scoring criteria at the onset of instruction and sometimes will even have input into how they will demonstrate their proficiency. Why Use Alternative Assessment? Many people attribute the move toward alternative assessment to changes that have occurred in the workplace. In the past, public schools prepared students for manufacturing jobs that were the backbone of the economy. Schools focused on base skill sets and factbased knowledge. Paper-and-pencil tests adequately measured the fact-based knowledge used in the old economy. As the country has moved from manufacturing to an information-based economy, some economists have predicted that the new workplace will increasingly demand workers with analytical thinking skills. Workers will need to use higher-level thinking skills to solve complex problems of information management and computing. Alternative assessments help schools prepare students for the complex tasks that will be required of them when they become adults by focusing on thinking skills rather than memorization.
Assessment as a Tool for Learning by Jill Hearne
Assessment! For teacher, the word conjures up images of late night grading sessions prior to report card deadlines. For principals, it conjures up phone calls from media and parents demanding "bigger, better" scores. To a superintendent, the word "assessment" is often related to job tenure. For students it signifies the judgment of others regarding work they may or may not understand or care about. But assessment can have positive connotations and consequences when it is used as a tool for learning. Sound assessment should be both a barometer of how well things are progressing as well as a compass indicating future direction. Throughout the United States principals and district administrators engaged in meaningful school reform are working with their communities to share assessment information to guide decision-making about curriculum and instruction. The result is that there is a shift from using assessment as a negative force in schools to a positive force that builds a climate of reflection about what is going on in classrooms When I was a principal, we had a social skills program where staff would give "coupons" to students seen "doing things right" (i.e. being helpful good citizens). An ideal school would treat assessment in the same way. Students, staff, and principals should be rewarded for using assessment as a tool for learning rather than simply rewarding right answers. The Changing Scope of Assessment The shift in consciousness from assessment data as organizational hammer to its use as a tool in strategic planning is slow but critical if we in school are to truly develop learning organizations. Recently a group of highly educated mainly Ph.D. parents assembled to critique a new standards-based report card. Teachers had spent months laying out developmental descriptions of reading, math and language skills with carefully worded and ordered phrases such as: "recalls some story details", "recalls major story events", "recalls relevant passage details", "summarizes passages concisely", "makes references and draws conclusions". Each description defined a level of skill students could be expected to attain in a particular age bond such as ages 5-7, 7 to 9 years, etc. After studying this new report card form in some length, one of the parents raised his hand and said, "Oh! So this is what you do in school?" This innocent and honest question revealed for me the essential error those of us in school have made for all these years. Our error has been the assumption that what we did as instructors was clearly evident and known to all participants, students, parents and teachers. But in fact we have not been clear. We have not made it clear to students what is to be learned, we have not made it clear to parents how well students are to perform, and we have not agreed as educational communities on what learning or knowledge is of most worth. Lacking consensus on knowledge, skills and understandings perhaps it is a functional solution to be vague about data, about student learning (assessment information). As students are no longer being educated to perform rote tasks focused on knowledge and understanding, so too must teachers be supported as they acquire adult learning skills as creators and users of assessment information and not passive deliverers of curriculum prepackaged by a distant textbook publishing company. The movement toward teachers being makers and users of assessment data reflects the shift from teacher as assembly line worker to lifetime learner (Bullard, p. 206) Principals, teachers, students and the community can come together around sound principles of assessment to create learning experiences that matter. Data on student outcomes individually and collectively comes center stage as all the members of the school community discuss three critical questions regarding quality. Staff and parents ask themselves these same critical questions about quality that they can also use to teach students to ask about their work: * What am I doing? * How well am I doing it? (in relationship to established criteria)
* What do I need to do to improve? (Hearne, 1992) A key question to ask is: "What is the match between what our goals are and how we are assessing?" Assessment Literacy In student Involved Classroom Assessment, Richard Stiggins (2001) engages in a particularly useful discussion about the match between assessment method and assessment targets. He discusses the four main types of assessment methods: selected response (multiple choice, true/false, matching, and fill in) essay, performance assessment and personal communications. For assessing knowledge and mastery, selected response methods are parsimonious. They allow a quick, accurate inexpensive means of finding out what is known about a subject or area. Essay responses can also show knowledge and also allow for indications of reasoning proficiency. Performance assessments are too expensive and time consuming to be used at the fact-recall-knowledge mastery level, but they allow for observation of skills during performance and assess proficiency in carrying out steps in developing a product. Personal communication has strength at each level from knowledge through skills, product creation and disposition about learning, but is not efficient at each level. (Stiggins, 2001). Sound assessment results only when there is a clear purpose for assessment, clear and appropriate targets, proper methods, an appropriate sample of the targets, and elimination of bias and distortion in measurement. Stiggins proposes that these five principles guide sound assessment practices. 1. Is the purpose of the assessment clear? 2. Is the target achievement clear and appropriate? 3. What methods do the target and purpose suggest are appropriate? 4. How can we sample performances appropriately, given target, purpose and method? 5. What can go wrong, given target, purpose and method, and how can we prevent bias and distortion? (Stiggins, p. 15) When answered with understanding, this results in assessment literacy. Stiggins (2001) states that those who know the meaning of assessment quality with all of its nuances and know that one is never justified in settling for unsound assessments are assessment literate. At the school level, understanding the match between method and student outcomes is critical. Also critical is an awareness of audience. Who needs to know what information and in what time frame? The needs of school board members are very different from the needs of parents or students. As you examine your assessment menu in your school, remember to include parents and students in discussions of quality. Provide opportunities for each to truly understand what is being measured, what evidence is considered proficient or "good enough" and most importantly to see the link between the assessment and instructional complications. Unless assessment results are used to make issues of quality part of everyday conversation in schools, they will not change instruction. This is where the assessment revolution is actually taking place-- in the use of assessment data to drive decision-making. The difference is that "data" takes on a richer meaning when that "data" is actual student work instead of numbers representing a normative version of student work. Certainly, normative data has a place, and there are clear advantages of using normative data for program planning as well as building and district evaluation. Consistency over time, ability to look at trend data, comparability between school systems at a regional, state, or international level are a few of the benefits. Using Multiple Measures Utilizing multiple measures of student learning that include actual student work builds a community of learners. No one test or assessment can give a clear picture of student achievement which is why several states (Washington, Maryland, Maine) and districts (Seattle, Washington, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina) have incorporated multiple measures including classroom-based evidence as part of their total accountability system.
Student work, however, becomes data when it is scored using commonly understood criteria and reflected upon for the purpose of improving instruction. Not only is the process of scoring student work an important process for members of a school community to go through to communicate and internalize common standards, it is also a powerful staff development tool for improving instruction. A useful organizational structure for using student work as data is suggested here as a seven step process schools can use to assess student learning. 1. Decide what skill cluster to assess and select a broad assessment that captures more than one attribute of the domain. 2. Construct or use existing scoring guides or rubrics for the task. 3. Share the task and scoring criteria with staff. 4. Administer the task to students in a similar time frame. 5. Spend time discussing the scoring criteria and agreeing on anchor papers. (Anchor papers are a few papers from each score point that represent the quality expressed in the criteria.) 6. Rate the student's papers. It is often useful to have the papers noted by a teacher who is not the students' own instructor for the subject. 7. Compare ratings, discuss and formulate implications for instructional delivery. 8. Data can be reported in terms of the percentage of students meeting the criteria at the various points. In using multiple measures one can get a clearer picture of student achievement over time at the district and building level as well as at the student level. Examples of multiple measures used by our schools include student work, classroom based assessments, schoolwide assessments, as well as district and state assessments. Both normative and standards based information is valued. Each school community matches its philosophy, instructional strategies and assessments to its goals to accomplish its mission. While the approaches at each site differ, this alignment drives school effectiveness. In each school community there is an emphasis on multiple forms of data to answer questions of process quality, and effectiveness. There is a continual search for evidence that is student centered and captures the richness of each school experience. This search for authenticity makes each person a learner. There is a shift from what Le Mahieu (1966) terms "accounting" for school achievement to authentic accountability, which redefines the lines of responsibility from the blame game to interactive reciprocal responsibility. Learning from Sound Assessment When assessment results are used as a barometer to measure the strength of learning and as a compass to show the direction of future action, all participants become learners. . As the social and political context of schooling requires greater accountability decision makers in schools must become more able to use information in all forms in the best interest of students. The new view of leadership in learning organizations centers on subtler and more important tasks. In a learning organization leaders are designers, stewards and teachers. They are responsible for building organizations where people continually expand their capabilities to understand complexity, clarify vision and improve mental models-- that is they are responsible for learning. (Senge, 1990.) Principals as learners, teachers as learners, community members as learners are all part of this merging paradigm of schools as dynamic rather than static organizations. Principals as learners: Principals model learning and are themselves learners as they seek better ways to structure school time, allocate resources and motivate staff. Principals are the key to managing and creating the culture of reflective teaching that expects and teaches to the concept of "what good work looks like around here. " Principals can: 1. Utilize multiple measures to create a building based assessment system that links classrooms and students over time. 2. Support teachers in their growth in assessment literacy through staff development. 3. Provide parent education opportunities to help parents understand assessment. 4. Work with local media to interpret various indices of school improvement in addition to normative measures. 5. Support development of a building wide portfolio system that showcases student work and moves from grade to grade. 6. Make the goals and objectives of school clear and give focused feedback to teachers on how their classroom efforts support these goals.
Teachers as learners: Teachers are learners as they examine multiple measures of student attitude and performance as well as indices of community satisfaction. As students are no longer being educated to perform rote tasks focused on knowledge and understanding, so too must teachers be supported as they acquire adult learning skills as creators and users of assessment information. In the past, teachers were often expected to be passive deliverers of curriculum prepackaged by a distant textbook publishing company. The movement toward teachers being makers and users of assessment data reflects the shift from teacher as assembly line worker to lifetime learner (Bullard, p. 206) Teachers find themselves transforming their teaching as ongoing assessment reveals how students approach tasks, what helps them learn most effectively, and what strategies support their learning. The more teachers understand about what students know and how they think, the more capacity they leave to reform their pedagogy, and the more opportunities they create for student success. (Darling Hammond, (1996). Teachers can: 1. Help students see what good work looks like by providing adequate models of work that meets requirements, exceeds requirements and does not meet requirements. 2. Provide students with frequent feedback on specific ways to improve. 3. Teach students self reflective skills which include the ability to see how their work meets the standard and what they need to change to improve. (Hearne, 1992) 4. Work with parents on how to monitor work at home in a positive manner. 5. Be assessment literate in all they do. (Stiggins, 2001) Share this with parents. 6. Design lessons with a clear view of the student outcomes expected. (Wiggins and McTigue, 1998) 7. Use grading practices that communicate about student achievement. (Airasian, 1994) Students as learners: Students are traditionally thought of as the only learners in school. They are now able to use a variety of tools and resources to demonstrate learning and reflect on their progress. Seeing examples of good work, discussing scoring criteria or rubrics, and even creating templates to use in assessing their own and each other's work develops their ability to identify and thus emulate good work. Students can: 1. Learn to value their own work. 2. Use rubrics to assess their work. 3. Reflect on how their work is like/different from the standard and state what they need to do to improve. 4. Collect work over time and discuss it with an adult. 5. Learn the relationship between effort and outcomes. Collectively, schools as learning organizations require a conceptual shift of power from total assessment by external sources, (teachers, parents, tests) to shared assessment both external and internal (student). In The Quality School (Glasser, 1990), the author discusses the need for a shift in power from teacher- centered to student- centered learning. Traditional beliefs about the relationship between teaching and student learning must be discarded as the student is drawn into the power loop and learns to construct indices of quality with the teacher. The community as learners: At an individual school level, one of the first questions you must ask yourselves as a school community is: "What are we assessing for? Are we measuring that which is most worthwhile to our school community? In "The Socrates Syndrome - Questions that should never be Asked" Campbell (1995) suggests that true education is " a lifetime of seamless experience, connecting individual episodes into an ever expanding web of meaning, insight and understanding." But he acknowledges that asking the kinds of questions that make this true education possible is threatening. People in schools are more willing to invest in magic bullets from publishers than in the time to wrangle over questions such as: * What is so important that everybody must know? * Why does any test have a time limit? * What is the purpose of education? The standards-based reform movement grew out of attempts to answer questions such as these and many effective school improvement models begin with these questions. The United States Department of Education's Blue Ribbon Schools nomination begins with an analysis of goals and their match with the needs of the student population. Other useful
models which begin with an analysis of goals and mission include the Northwest Regional Laboratory's Onward to Excellence Program and the National Study of School Evaluation's accreditation process School Improvement - Focusing on Desired Student Outcomes. Models such as these mirror the strategic planning process used in business and industry by clarifying direction, selecting indicators of progress, analyzing results, and using the information gained to inform further improvement activities. Community members can: 1. Read a variety of books on educational reform expressing different points of view. 2. Attend several school board meetings. 3. Visit their neighborhood school. 4. Learn about their state and district accountability system. 5. Become familiar with the types of assessments used in their community. Authentic measures and sound assessment uses encourages learning at all levels of the school community and focuses most directly on the student and the work. If you want students to solve problems, have them solve problems. If you want the students to be able to write a persuasive essay, have them do that. If you want students to communicate mathematical understanding, then have them explain their process in arriving at an answer. In a standards based system, clear learning expectations make it easier to use assessment data as an accountability tool. Everyone can become a learner as the answers to the three critical questions of quality are collaboratively explored. What are we doing? How well are we doing it? What do we need to do to improve? Thus, as Shakespeare might have said, "Assessment doth make learners of us all." http://www.newhorizons.org/strategies/assess/hearne.htm Copyright © 2004 Intelligence Connections Posted with permission March 2004
Learning Celebrations are Authentic Assessments of Student Understanding
by Maggie Meyer and Jenna Glock
Reprinted with permission from INTELLIGENCE CONNECTIONS, Newsletter of the ASCD, Multiple Intelligences Network, February 2004, Volume XI, Number 3
Oftentimes as educators, we ask ourselves how we can really tell if students are grasping the content. Do they really understand? The ideas of Howard Gardner and the message provided by an ancient Chinese proverb have been our guides in designing curriculum and assessments that engage learners. Constructing learning experiences that are based on the multiple intelligences provides all students with the opportunity to be successful. When it comes to assessment of that learning we use the same concept in designing authentic situations we have called learning celebrations. A paper and pencil test does not touch true understanding. Unfortunately, it has become the standard way for students to show their knowledge. To demonstrate understanding we feel learners need to have choices so they can show evidence of their learning through the intelligence of their choice. To be a useful assessment, that learning should be applied in a setting that demonstrates genuine understanding. We have discovered that some of the most meaningful moments in teaching and learning have occurred during these celebrations. When students have multiple choices in ways to demonstrate their knowledge, the evidence of their learning is more accurate. We wanted the students to actually become the experts through the learning process. This assessment isn't just a fancy term for a presentation at the end of a unit. To actually engage in an authentic celebration is to witness a true display of student understanding. Described below are two examples of compacted versions of some curriculum we have implemented that culminate in learning celebrations. Water We Doing? is a unit based on the concept of water and its value as a natural resource. The essential question for the unit is: How are human beings responsible for the maintaining of healthy watersheds? Through lessons designed using the multiple intelligences the students explore watersheds, biodiversity, wetlands, groundwater, aquifers and impervious surfaces among many other things. To show their understanding of learning objectives the students choose from a variety of ways to demonstrate that they are experts on certain topics. These choices are also designed by implementing the multiple intelligences. The assessment is a learning celebration where students become presenters at a Watershed Conference. They invite adults and community members to attend sessions where they share their understanding in multiple ways.
Watershed Presentation Choices Choose one of the following ideas to implement which will involve an audience and demonstrate your understanding of content at a Watershed Conference session:
1. Construct a three- dimension model of a watershed. Be prepared to give a sufficient definition of a watershed and an explanation of your design.
2. Design a set of ten survey questions about water as a natural resource. Ask at least ten
3. Compose an instructional song about watersheds. Make sure this is a teaching song and you are providing new learning as well as
This needs to be an intricate design reflecting new learning. Point out impacts of human development and the value of natural resources. Bodily/Kinesthetic
adults to respond. Tally and analyze your results. Visually share your process and conclusions during your presentation. Interpersonal
fun. Create some hand movements or rhythms for group participation. 3B. Make a musical collage of songs that reflect the importance of natural resources and/or human impacts along watersheds. Be prepared to give background information to your audience. Musical
4. Where does our wastewater go? Schedule a docent-led visit of LOTT, the water treatment plant for Thurston County. Prepare a list of questions to ask and take notes and photos as you go. Share your new information visually, (diagram? model?) explaining the water treatment process and interesting data you learn. Mathematical/Logical
5. You choose an idea for a project or product that will show your understanding of watershed concepts. Explain it to me for approval before you start. Think about implementing technology such as Power Point or digital photos into our conference presentation. Intrapersonal
6. Write a guided imagery focusing on a biodiversity within a watershed or in a riparian zone. Make sure it has new information and learning within it to show you are an expert. Find appropriate music to play in the background as you engage your audience. Visual/Spatial
9. Construct ten math problems that provide us with watershed data that you think is valuable. Allow us time to solve your problems but explain to us your solutions and their significance to our conference. Mathematical/Logical
8. With your parents, explore a section of a river or creek along your watershed. Use your senses and record your observations. Take pictures if you can. Share that data and your experience with the class. Naturalist
9. Design and illustrate a watershed newspaper. Include both current events and informational articles on topics such as land use perspectives, water conservation, and water quality. Verbal/Linguistic
Leadership is a unit based on the idea the individuals have positive qualities that enable them to develop into successful leadership positions. The personal intelligences are emphasized in this learning experience. The essential question is: What kind of person do you want to be? After analyzing the qualities displayed by positive leaders through lessons designed using multiple intelligences, the students research several leaders of their choice. In the process, they explore qualities demonstrated by each leader. Each student makes the choice of which famous leader he/she would like to explore more about and become.
Students begin to creatively fashion clothes from their parents' closets and dress like their leaders. After much research, they take on their leader's mannerisms and accents if necessary. To culminate the process, The Night of the Notables is a learning celebration that allows the student to demonstrate their understanding by presenting to an audience the leadership qualities they posses as their adopted leader. The audience participates by trying to guess the identity of the student's leader. As one student said, "This was the best learning experience I have ever had. I have never worked harder in my life. I learned so much about history, leadership, as well as how to do research. I will never forget about becoming Helen Keller." The demonstration of true understanding should not be a score on a test but a display of learning that deserves a celebration. As an ancient Chinese proverb states, "Tell me, I will forget…. Show me, I will remember…Involve me, I will understand." Isn't this what teaching and learning is all about?
Copyright © 2004 Intelligence Connections Posted with permission March 2004 by New Horizons for Learning http://www.newhorizons.org firstname.lastname@example.org