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Assessment and Evaluation

My student teaching experience and my coursework at William & Mary have taught me to move beyond assessment of learning and instead aspire to assessment for learning. Assessment should not be about merely assigning a student a grade for their work. Rather, the main goal of most classroom-based assessments should be for the teacher to ascertain how well students learned a concept and to adjust subsequent lessons accordingly. For example, if all students in the class score 85% or higher on a quiz, that signals to the teacher that the lesson was effective and she can now move on to the next topic. On the other hand, if half the students in the class fail a quiz, that signals to the teacher that the lesson was ineffective and she needs to develop a new way to teach the same content to her students. If all the students except for three do well on a quiz, the teacher may decide to have the class as a whole move onto the next topic, but provide targeted remediation in a small group setting to the three students who need it.

Assessment can be summative, such as assigning a student a grade at the end of a unit, or assessment can be formative, such as analyzing the results of a pre-test in order to determine what concepts to emphasize in upcoming lessons. During my practicum and student teaching experiences, I have used formative and summative assessments, I have observed students' growth over time, and I have based lessons/instructional activities on assessment results.

Proof of Summative Assessment:

  • Test Creation Assignment --> I completed a test creation assignment for my assessment course at William & Mary. This assignment and the course in general have prepared me to create valid and reliable assessments in the classroom. I now understand how to create a table of specifications by taking intended learning outcomes from the Virginia Department of Education’s Curriculum Framework, identifying the cognitive level(s) of each intended learning outcome based on Bloom’s taxonomy (which consists of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation), and then creating a grid with the intended learning outcomes down the left column and the cognitive levels across the top. The intersections between the intended learning outcomes and the cognitive levels are where my instruction and assessment should be focused. This will allow me to closely align my instruction and assessment with the official curriculum, and it will help me to spend an appropriate amount of time on each topic in the curriculum without leaving items out or dwelling excessively on items that are not part of the curriculum. Awareness of cognitive levels will help me teach and assess at all levels of Bloom’s taxonomy that are described in the curriculum framework’s intended learning outcomes, not just the lower cognitive levels that stock test questions often assess. My time in the assessment course and the experience of creating this test have made me confident in my ability to create valid and reliable assessments, as well as my ability to plan targeted instruction that reaches all intended learning outcomes at the appropriate cognitive levels.

  • Original Coin Counting Assessment --> I created this assessment for kindergarten students both in my cooperating teacher's classroom and in our team teacher's classroom. The kindergarten math standard of learning requires students to be able to accurately count coins up to 10 cents. However, my cooperating teacher and I agreed that most of our kindergarteners can count coins far beyond 10 cents, so I decided to have the first six questions assess the standard (up to 10 cents) and the last three questions assess students beyond the standard (up to 30 cents). I used photographs of the coins that I found online for the test in order to make the coins look as realistic as possible. I also set up the test so that each question gets progressively harder (e.g., knowledge of the value of each coin, then counting up pennies, then counting up a nickel plus pennies, then adding up nickels, then adding up a dime plus pennies, then adding up a dime, plus a nickel, plus pennies, etc.), so that if students had difficulties we could pinpoint exactly where they struggled. This proved useful, for example, for determining that one of our students with special needs recognized how much each coin was worth but was not able to combine the coins. Another student was able to count by nickels and count by dimes, but was not able to combine dime plus nickel. After reviewing the test results, I concluded (1) that the test was quite successful in distinguishing students who knew how to count correctly from those who did not, (2) nearly all the kindergarteners did very well on the test (which signaled to me that when assigning them coin counting review problems for morning work I can make the problems more challenging), and (3) to make the test more effective in the future, I will make it more clear that quarters are not on the test. Kindergarteners are not responsible for learning quarters like first graders are, so I did not include any on the test. However, a few students thought the picture of a nickel was a quarter when they looked at the test. Perhaps having a picture of a quarter at the top of the test and the words "You will not have to add up quarters on this test" would help them more easily identify the nickel.

Proof of Formative Assessment:

  • I taught a math lesson to kindergarteners and first graders on addition story problems. After a whole group lesson on the topic, the students worked in pairs to complete original worksheets that I created. While they worked, I walked around the room providing assistance as needed until all pairs successfully mastered the assignment. The only problem this left was that at the end I had a stack of papers that were all 100% correct (since the students who needed it had received scaffolding and assistance from myself and the cooperating teacher), and therefore no record of how the students could perform on the task independently. Therefore, at the very end of the lesson I distributed notecards and asked each student to independently write an original story problem, solve it, and turn it in. Then after the school day ended I was able to browse through the notecards in order to get an idea of who had completely mastered the concept and who needed more support. The notecards were not for a grade like a summative assessment would be; rather, they were formative, simply letting me know where each student was at so that I could tailor my subsequent instruction accordingly. The attached file includes the math lesson plan, my analysis of the formative assessments, and a reflection on the entire process.
  • I administered an Observation Survey -- which is a formal assessment of letter recognition, word reading, word writing, concepts of print, and dictation -- for a first-grade student who was reading below grade level. The assessment was not for a grade; rather, I used it to plan one-on-one tutoring sessions with the student.

Demonstrated Growth:

  • Before teaching a science unit on plants, I used the first two columns of a KWL chart (What We Know, What We Want to Know, and What We Learned) as a pre-assessment of students' current knowledge and interest in plants. I discovered that they had picked up quite a bit of background knowledge about the spread of pollen by bees and other insects (probably because of a nonfiction read aloud about bees the previous week). I also learned that they were interested in learning about how to take care of plants and about the types of plants people can eat, and I made sure to include these topics in the lesson plans for the two-week unit.
  • In order to ascertain student learning, I administered a paper-and-pencil assessment that included matching, multiple choice, and free response. The most common scores on the eleven-question test were minus zero and minus one. I was especially pleased because the kindergarten students did quite well on the test even though it was designed based on the Grade 1 science Standards of Learning. In areas such as plant needs, plant parts, plant part functions, and plant characteristics, students showed deeper understanding on the end-of-unit assessment than they had on the KWL pre-assessment activity.

Lessons Based on Student Assessment Results:

  • I created an intervention lesson plan based on the Words Their Way phonics program in order to meet the needs of students who struggled with recognizing the initial, medial, or final sound in three letter words such as "cat," "log," etc. Before developing the lesson plan, I first administered a pre-assessment (the Words Their Way primary spelling inventory). The results of this pre-assessment allowed me to target the lesson to exactly the letter sounds that each student needed practice with the most. For example, one student needed to work on the [h] and [w] sounds in the initial position (e.g., "hat" and "wag"). Another student needed to work on the [g], [b], [p], and [t] sounds in the final position (e.g., "bag," "web," etc.). A more advanced student had mastered his initial and final sounds for three-letter words but still needed to work on recognizing the [u] and [e] sounds in the medial position (e.g., "hut" and "pet"). Gathering this pre-assessment data was extremely beneficial because it allowed me to develop an activity that could meet all three of these students' needs (a "sound box" game in which I drew a picture of a three-letter word (such as "cat," "dog," "bed," etc.), and the students identified the word and then each supplied one of the three letter sounds in the three empty boxes (the weakest students supplied the initial sound, the strongest student supplied the medial sound, and the middle student supplied the final sound). The pre-assessment data also allowed me to carefully select words that would be most beneficial for the students. For example, the word "web" made the list because it contained a [w] in the initial position for Student A, a [b] in the final position for Student B, and an [e] in the medial position for Student C.
  • As discussed in the "Formative Assessment" section, I administered the Observation Survey (a reading and writing assessment) to a first-grade student, and then used the results of the assessment to plan a series of tutoring lessons in reading for the student. My lesson plans and reflections for the tutoring sessions are attached.