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Lindsay Kaye Ohlert

CI 5635 Spring 2010 Assessment Paper

Over the course of this school year, I completed two very different student teaching

placements. One was with 2nd grade ELLs in a push-in inclusion format, with a focus on

reading and basic math skills; the second was teaching Social Studies – Geography and

American History – in a sheltered English classroom. Because of the differences in content,

program design and school expectations, the types of formal assessment used at these two

placements differed greatly. The elementary school as a whole was very focused on data-driven

instruction, and as such, relied heavily on the use of standardized tests that could be boiled down

to purely numerical results for use in objective decision-making. With my middle school class,

on the other hand, the general preference was for authentic assessment through performance


The formal assessments I used at my elementary school placement were determined

largely by factors outside my control. At this school, while the ELL teachers were theoretically

supposed to be “co-teachers,” due to the way the inclusion model was implemented I often ended

up simply implementing ELL-accommodated versions of the classroom teachers’ lesson plans.

Additionally, the school had adopted a scripted commercial reading curriculum building-wide,

which also eliminated much of our “creative control.” So, while I administered many

assessments for both formative and summative purposes, most of the time they were not of my

creation or choosing.

One fairly typical test we used several times was a phonics inventory that came with the

commercial curriculum, which was aligned directly with state reading standards. In this test, the

teacher would meet one-on-one with an individual student, presenting him or her with a long list

of nonsense words such as “bup” and “shad.” The student then had one minute to read as much

of the list aloud as possible. As the student read, the teacher marked each phoneme that that was
Lindsay Kaye Ohlert
CI 5635 Spring 2010 Assessment Paper

said correctly – for example, correctly pronouncing “bup” would earn a student three points,

while pronouncing it “dup” or “up” would only earn two. The student’s final score was simply

the total number of phonemes correctly pronounced within the time limit.

This data was first used to put students into instructional groups; the lowest ten scores

went in one group, the next ten in another, and so forth; each group was assigned a different

teacher to work with during phonics time. After about 6 weeks, we repeated the phonics

inventory, this time for the purpose of monitoring the efficacy of the instructional methods we

were using; teachers whose students were not showing significant gains were expected to modify

their instruction, although of course these flat scores offered little information about how they

should change their approaches. Then, at the end of the quarter, we administered the inventory a

third time, this time to obtain a score to put on the students’ report cards. Thus, this single test

was used for several purposes; the first two uses were definitely formative, as they were used to

shape instruction, the third summative, as it was used to describe “what the learner [could] do

with language at that point” (Shrum & Glisan, 2005, p. 361).

This assessment was not at all authentic. It falls all the way to the right on both the

Natural-Unnatural continuum and Integrative-Discrete continuum, being as it was an artificial

task done out of context (Shrum & Glisan, 2005, p. 362). It was also inauthentic in that it

allowed no student collaboration, measured performance at a single moment in time, and used

only one instrument (Peregoy & Boyle, 2008, p. 109). To a certain extent, this did make the test

more valid at measuring phonics knowledge and skill; if it had been placed in, for example, the

context of real words used in a story, students with a large repertoire of sight words would have

an advantage, as would students with greater overall English proficiency. On the other hand, the

nature of the test also reduced validity somewhat, in that faster reading speed resulted in higher
Lindsay Kaye Ohlert
CI 5635 Spring 2010 Assessment Paper

scores, but students often read at a slower pace for reasons other than proficiency level; for

example, some perfectionist types with excellent phonemic awareness scored lower because they

worked slowly to say every single word exactly right, and thus were placed in lower groups.

Additionally, since students either got credit or not for each phoneme, there was no way to take

into account the various reasons a student might make an error; a student who confuses the

letters “b” and “d” has different instructional needs from a student who separately pronounces

the “s” and “h” in the /sh/ digraph, as does the student who does not know the letter at all. For

the school overall, it was important to have clean numerical data that was consistent across all

classes and teachers; within my own classroom, I might use a similar inventory, as it does

provide good insight into students phonemic awareness, but I would use it as one factor among

many in forming groups and making statements about student achievement. Far more useful to

me when working with my phonics group were the results of my own informal formative

assessment, such as observing how quickly and accurately students could match utterances to

cards with the corresponding written phonemes; these observations told me immediately which

students needed additional work on which sounds, which guided my instructional choices.

The approach to formal assessment at my middle school placement was very different.

Both my cooperating teacher and the school in general viewed formal assessment as an

opportunity for students to “show off” their gains in skills and knowledge, and teachers were

able to design their own assessments, so long as they were aligned with the building-wide

grading system, which was based on scaled levels of mastery. Also, I was personally given great

freedom in planning and implementing instruction.

I will briefly examine three different types of formal assessment I used at this placement.

An example of the first is Appendix A, a quiz I wrote and administered to my newcomer

Lindsay Kaye Ohlert
CI 5635 Spring 2010 Assessment Paper

Geography 1a students. The questions align directly with the Minnesota Social Studies

Standards document, such as “Point out borders that touch other countries or water” (Minnesota

Department of Education, 2004). To increase validity, I used the exact format and language as

practice activities we’d done in class, so the test was more about applying the skill than about

reading or following instructions – two very difficult things for newcomers. This type of quiz

was designed as much to orient new student to test-taking procedures as it was to actually assess.

The second type of formal assessment can be found in Appendices B and C, the “Asian

Geography” and “Immigration” tests, which I did with my ELL level 2 Geography 1b class and

ELL level 4 American History classes respectively. On the surface, these look like the Appendix

A assessments, but the documents don’t tell the whole story; students actually wrote these tests

themselves, making this a combination performance assessment and traditional assessment. I

had students use their notes, memories, and classroom resources to write test questions and

answers (since their earlier instructional activities had addressed objectives based on state

standards, the questions they wrote naturally addressed these standards as well), then I compiled

and edited their questions to form a single exam, which they took in class the next day. Their

questions told me a lot about what information they considered important and memorable, and

the grammar and vocabulary they used helped me choose academic language goals for upcoming

units. Additionally, I believe this approach greatly reduced test anxiety, making the results of the

exam itself more reliable.

A third type of formal assessment I used can be found in Appendices D and E –

performance assessments. I attempted to follow the guidelines from Authentic Assessment for

English Language Learners by forming prompts that were simultaneously challenging and

accessible, required higher-level thinking, and would produce writing that was both skillful and
Lindsay Kaye Ohlert
CI 5635 Spring 2010 Assessment Paper

interesting (O'Malley, 1996, p. 140). I also drew in Minnesota ELL standards by making

student-generated language – in these cases, dialogue, which they were also working on in

Writing – a vehicle for effectively communicating Social Studies content. I discovered when

doing these activities that students were hugely motivated by having products – here, a comic

book and a video clip – to display and keep, which resulted in improved performance. I did,

however, have to keep reminding students that they were being evaluated for content and

language, not on the perfection of their art or computer animation – in the future, I will make that

totally explicit up-front when using performance assessments.

I learned a lot about assessment over the course of my student teaching placements. In

particular, I feel that I now have a much better grasp on how to tailor assessment to my own

classes while meeting school-wide requirements. I am also more acutely aware now of the

factors that can skew test result data, and know that in order for assessment to be truly useful,

both the test design and the interpretation of the results must take these factors into account.

Works Cited
Minnesota Department of Education. (2004). State Social Studies Standards. Online:

O'Malley, J. a. (1996). Authentic Assessment for English Language Learners. USA: Addison-
Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.

Peregoy, S., & Boyle, O. (2008). Reading, Writing and Learing in ESL. Boston, MA: Pearson

Shrum, J., & Glisan, E. (2005). Teacher's Handbook: Contextualized Language Instruction.
Boston: Thomson and Heinle.


Look at the map of the world and find the borders of these countries.

1. United States north: ________________ south: ________________

east: _________________ west: _________________

2. Namibia north: ________________ south: ________________

east: _________________ west: _________________

3. Madagascar north: ________________ south: ________________

east: _________________ west: _________________

Use the map. Say if the sentences are TRUE or FALSE.

4. ______ Cambodia is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north.

5. ______ Laos is bordered by Vietnam to the east.
6. ______ Burma is bordered by China to the north.
7. ______ The Andaman Sea separates the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands.
8. ______ The Philippine Sea separates Burma and Thailand.
Fill in the blanks.
9. Australia is bordered by _______________________ to the west.

10. Vietnam is bordered by _______________________ to the north.


Asian Geography Quiz

1. This country is west of Russia, east of Libya and borders the Black Sea:
2. What is the capital of Israel?
3. This bay is southeast of India and southwest of Myanmar (Burma):
4. These two countries are north of China and south of Russia:
5. Name one mountain range located in China:
6. This sea borders Saudi Arabia and Egypt:
7. What mountain range connects Europe and Asia?
8. Name four countries that are bordered by the Pacific Ocean.
9. What is the capital of Kyrgyzstan?
10. This river ends at the Sea of Okhost:
11. This plain is west of Russia:
12. This plateau is north of Vietnam:
13. This peninsula is west of the Red Sea:
14. What is the capital of Japan?
15. Besides Russia, what is the biggest country in Asia?
16. What is the capital of China?
17. This ocean is west of Asia:
18. This country is south of Turkmenistan and north of Pakistan:
19. This country is south of Nepal and southeast of Pakistan:
20. This country is north of Kazakhstan:
21. What country is closest to Japan?
22. This ocean is north of Asia:
23. This country is south of Kazakhstan and northeast of Turkmenistan:
24. Where is the Tibetan Autonomous Region?
25. In which region is India located?
26. What is the tallest mountain in Asia? Where is it located?
27. Name two countries that contain Caucasus mountains:
28. This ocean is east of Asia:
29. This desert is located in Mongolia and China:
Immigration (1890-1920) Test

True or False (1 point each)

1. ______If Chinese immigrants at Angel Island were sick, they were sent back to China.
2. ______Most immigrants waited 2 or 3 weeks at Angel Island, but some had to wait months.
3. ______Most immigrants at Ellis Island were from Asia.
4. ______Angel Island had fences and locks like a prison.
5. ______Angel Island is now a park.
6. ______The first thing immigrants saw at Angel Island was the Statue of Liberty.
7. ______Immigrants at Angel Island carved poetry into the walls.
8. ______At Angel Island, the men and the women were separated.
9. ______The first immigrant at Ellis Island was an Irish girl.
10. ______Immigrants at Angel Island did not have to pass tests.
11. ______Immigrants at Ellis Island had to pass tests.
12. ______Most immigrants at Angel Island were from Europe.

Short Answer (2 points each)

Answer at least seven of these questions. For extra credit, you may answer all eight.
13. What is an immigrant?

14. What happened to immigrants at Ellis Island who had diseases or other health problems?

15. At Ellis Island, what did immigrants do at the money exchange?

16. Why did Chinese immigrants at Angel Island have to get medical examinations?

17. What is Ellis Island now?

18. At Ellis Island, why did doctors watch immigrants climb the stairs to the Great Hall?

19. Why did many Chinese people at Angel Island feel angry and disappointed?

20. What kinds of questions did immigrants have to answer?

Long Answer (6 points each)
Answer two of these questions. For extra credit, you may answer all three questions. Please write neatly and
use complete sentences. If you need more space, you may write on the back of the page.

21. “Push factors” are things that make people want to leave their home country. “Pull factors” are
things that help people choose to move to a particular different country. What were some push and
pull factors for immigrants to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s?

22. Some Americans were in favor of immigration, but others were against it. Explain some reasons
people supported immigrants and some reasons people opposed them.

23. Compare and contrast Ellis Island and Angel Island. How were they the same? How were they
XtraNormal India Video Assignment Rubric

4 3 2 1
Dialogue  The conversation  The conversation  The conversation  The conversation
sounds very natural. includes some greetings, includes a few greetings, provides partly accurate
 The dialogue goodbyes and goodbyes or interjections. information about at least
expresses emotions, such interjections.  The conversation three of the following:
as humor, romantic  The conversation provides mostly accurate Indian food, economics,
feelings, excitement, etc. includes accurate information about at least religion, clothing,
 The conversation information about at least four of the following: transportation,
includes accurate five of the following: Indian food, economics, architecture, and social
information about Indian Indian food, economics, religion, clothing, class.
food, economics, religion, religion, clothing, transportation,  There is an Indian
clothing, architecture, architecture, architecture, and social character and a Japanese
transportation and social transportation and social class. or Vietnamese character.
class. class.  The characters
 There are many  There are some compare and contrast
details. details. Indian culture with
 The characters  The characters Vietnamese and/or
compare and contrast compare and contrast Japanese culture.
Indian culture with Indian culture with
Vietnamese and/or Vietnamese and/or
Japanese culture. Japanese culture.

Video  The spelling and  The spelling and  The spelling and  The spelling and
punctuation are almost punctuation are mostly punctuation are good punctuation is good
perfect, so the program correct, so the program enough that the program enough that the program
can speak correctly. can speak mostly is understandable. can be understood
 The characters make correctly.  The characters make sometimes.
many actions that fit the  The characters make some actions.
conversation. some actions that fit the
Final Asia Assignment
Due March 5th
 First, choose two places (Vietnam, Japan, India,
Saudi Arabia, or Uzbekistan)
 Then, make a dialogue where a character from
one country goes to visit a character in a
different country and gets a tour. The characters
compare their cultures. (Include at least 10 of
these topics: food, economics, religion, clothing,
architecture, transportation, art, nature,
recreation, climate, history, and social class.)
 Spend about 15 minutes looking at pictures of
the countries on to get
 Make a comic book based on your dialogue.
Make sure the pictures match the dialogue!
You can work 2nd and 3rd period today
and 3rd period tomorrow. Your comic is
due Friday at the beginning of 2nd
period – no excuses!
Asian Cultures Comic Rubric

4 3 2 1
Dialog  The conversation is very  The conversation is  The spelling, grammar  Spelling, grammar
natural. mostly natural. and punctuation are good and/or punctuation
 The spelling, grammar  The spelling, grammar enough for the writing to be mistakes make the writing
and punctuation are almost and punctuation mostly understandable. hard to understand.
perfect. correct.
Cultural  The conversation  The conversation  The conversation  The conversation
Information addresses two of the Asian addresses two of the Asian addresses two of the Asian addresses one of the
cultures we studied. cultures we studied. cultures we studied. Asian cultures we studied.
 The conversation  The conversation  The conversation  The conversation
includes totally accurate includes mostly accurate includes somewhat accurate
includes information
information about 10 or information about 8 or more information about 5 or more
more of these elements: of these elements: food, of these elements: food,
about some of the
food, economics, religion, economics, religion, clothing, economics, religion, clothing, elements of culture, but
clothing, architecture, architecture, transportation, architecture, transportation, there are many
transportation, art, nature, art, nature, recreation, art, nature, recreation, inaccuracies.
recreation, climate, history, climate, history, and social climate, history, and social
and social class. class. class.
 There are many details.  There are some details.  The characters compare
 The characters compare  The characters compare and contrast a few elements.
and contrast all the elements and contrast some elements.
they discuss.

Presentation  The drawings match the  The drawings mostly  The drawings somewhat  There are drawings.
dialog. match the dialog. match the dialog.
 The drawings accurately  The drawings mostly  The drawings somewhat
show the cultures. accurately show the culture. show the culture.
 The drawing and writing  The drawing and writing  The drawing and writing
is very neat. is neat. is readable.