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Philosophy of Assessment

Shaina Peter-Paul

More often than not, it is assumed that teachers assess their students in a singular way.
Actually, there are a variety of ways to assess. In fact, within any school there could be a variety
of ways assessment is being utilized by teachers. Assessment is a tool used by educators to see
how individual students are doing with the curriculum outcomes assigned per grade. The type of
assessment that is most widely known is assessment of learning. Assessment of learning is the
teacher comparing the students work to the achievement standards, and assigning a singular
grade at the end of the learning unit on whether the student grasped the particular outcomes or
not. Although assessment of learning may seem mainstream, I personally believe in assessment
as learning and assessment for learning. Assessment for learning involves diagnostic and
formative assessment strategies, while assessment as learning focuses on self-assessing and
student-teacher conferencing strategies. I believe that assessment for and as learning allows each
individual student to succeed. Students come to schools as individuals, and I believe that is
exactly how they should be assessed, individually. Every student has their own sets of needs and
abilities teachers should be assessing for each student's individual success. Doing so, involves
using a variety of assessment strategies and furthering our knowledge by continuously reading
new research in regards to assessment.
As I previously mentioned, assessment for learning involves diagnostic and formative
assessment strategies. Utilizing diagnostic strategies allows teachers to see where their students
are at, prior to introducing the unit or concept. I believe that this is a strategy that must be used in
the classroom. Students are individuals, and they come to school at their own levels of
knowledge. As Falk mentioned in her article, Students need to be offered multiple pathways
to learning, pathways that are appropriate to a variety of strengths and styles of learning. (Falk,
Pg. 613). By using diagnostic tools, teachers are able to attain information that explains the needs
and abilities of each student. One way of using the diagnostic assessment tools, especially for
mathematics, is pre-tests. During my practicum, I had witnessed the benefits of utilizing this
strategy. My mentor teachers would provide one test that they called, Show What You Know to
all the students. On the Show What You Know test was a set of questions that reflected the
specific curriculum outcomes of the unit that was going to be introduced. The goal of assigning
this test was not for students to have all correct answers, but rather it was for the students to
show what they know. Once they had finished, we went through the tests and were able to see
which students did better with some specific curricular outcomes than others. The data allowed
us to adjust the upcoming lessons, plan for pull-outs to allow for student-teacher conferences
and, most importantly, it gave us information of the abilities and needs of every student. The data
collected also acted as a starting point to track the growth of the students. In the example above,
we provided the same exact test after the unit. The data provided us a visual of the individual
growth
of all the students.
Another part of assessment for learning is formative assessment. Formative assessment
involves the teacher providing students verbal or written feedback. I believe that this assessment
tool is extremely useful and works well alongside diagnostic assessment. By providing
individual feedback to students, the teacher is assessing what the she has done to help them turn
their errors into successes. I feel that this is extremely important because I believe that there is no
such thing as bad mistakes. Mistakes are all learning opportunities, and this is the exact message
I want to instill in all of my students. When mistakes are made, we have to think about how we
went wrong and then think of the ways in which we can change our mistake into successes. I
believe that when we provide students with feedback rather than grades, we are
encouraging them to learn from their mistakes to help themselves improve. Doing so, instills
independence and critical thinking skills into our students.
Utilizing formative feedback in the classroom allows the teacher to provide
individualized learning. Teachers can use formative assessment by using student evidence to
determine where students are in relation to the desired results, teachers are then better able to
make decisions about the appropriate next steps for students. (OBrien, 1). Formative feedback
allows students to truly be aware of their strengths and weaknesses while also providing steps
they can take to improve their performance. I believe that providing students with formative
feedback keeps them aware of their abilities and allows the teacher to scaffold students.
Providing consistent and constructive feedback will not leave students shocked when they see
the final grade that needs to be placed on a report card. Students will know what they are able to
do and what they need to do to get to the next stage.
Another form of assessment that I think highly of is assessment as learning. The idea of
assessment as learning is providing students with all the necessary information that is needed to
learn. The most important information that should be shared with students is what is expected of
them. I believe students should know exactly why I am teaching them specific information. One
way I will make sure this is included in my class is having a designated area in the room that
contains all the learning outcomes of either that day or week. I will take the outcomes from the
curriculum that I will be teaching and change them to student-friendly vocabulary with the help
of the class, so all students can know and read our outcomes. Students need teachers to
communicate in a student-friendly language because If standards are to serve the learning of all,
then they must be defined to promote the learning goals of all. (Falk, Pg. 613). Not only will I
make sure students see the outcomes around the room, I will plan for every lesson to begin with
me explaining the outcomes in student-friendly language. Doing so, allows the students to take
ownership over their learning as well as provides focus for teachers and students.
There are a variety of ways to assess our students. The strategies mentioned above are
only few of the many ways teachers can assess students. Some other ways I would like to use to
assess students are self-assessment and student-teacher conferencing. Self-assessment is allowing
students to assess themselves. This can be done through rubrics, exit-slips, check-lists, etc., and
they all aim at the student thinking about their work and what they know. Self-assessing also
leads to independence. Students are taking their learning into their own hands and self-reflecting
to judge their work not based on others, but individually. Self-assessing will show students how
to value their own work. What works well with self-assessment is student-teacher conferencing.
Pulling students aside to talk and work one-on-one is not just important for teachers but for their
students as well. Building a strong connection with your students will make them feel more
comfortable and excited to be in your classroom, and by spending allotted time to work with
students individually builds that bond. Working one on one with students also allows the teacher
to see the students abilities and needs, and their progresses throughout the year.
By using a variety of assessment strategies, it will aid me as a teacher to provide an
inclusive education for all my students. My goal in using assessments is for students not to feel
the pressure of grades. I do not want my students to fixate on grades and trying to be the best in
the class. I want my students to be learning for themselves, and taking their learning into their
own hands. All students have their own needs and abilities and my goal as an educator is to make
sure all the needs of my students are met and that all my students are succeeding. Although I am
setting myself up for a challenge, I think it is critical that students are formatively assessed, are
provided one-one conferencing, are given outcomes in language they understand and that they
are self-reflecting and self-assessing. Students are individuals and they should be assessed as
such.