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TALKING WITH PARENTS ABOUT ASSESSMENT: 5 Things Parents Need to Know

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1. Tests and Assessments Are Not the Same
A test examines a student’s knowledge, understanding, and skills to determine what level of learning has been reached. It generally results in a numerical or letter grade.
Assessment involves gathering, analyzing, and responding to a student’s strengths and misconceptions about their learning. It offers informative feedback to the learner and also guides the teacher’s practice:  Similar to a BMI that provides a number but not a health analysis or fitness plan. There are times we need a test but more often success is built on assessment.

2. A Standardized Test Is Just a Snapshot
There’s nothing wrong with getting an annual family portrait to provide touchstones of change over time. But in the classroom, assessment that relies on a variety of strategies offers an ongoing kaleidoscope of a child’s skills and abilities. Rather than one test score, it is essential to routinely monitor progress and take steps towards continuous improvement.

3. Encourage and Acknowledge Progress
Children can become discouraged when they don’t get the score or rating they expected. So can adults, athletes, and accountants. With assessment it is okay to make mistakes as long as we learn from them. The goal of assessment is improvement and small steps are important in reaching the big picture goals. It’s not about the learning gaps; it’s how we cross over them.

4. Let’s Work Together: Stay Connected
All of our lives have ups and downs. If your child is going through a rough patch keep the teacher informed of their changing mindset, unusual setbacks, and setups that can support improvement. Follow your child’s progress on your school’s learning management system. Talk with them and their teacher about assignments and assessments, their progress, and what you can do at home to support learning.

5. Grades Don’t Mean Everything
Test scores and report cards do not represent the whole child. Emerging studies show that someone who is dependable or works conscientiously and diligently may be more successful in life than the one who studies 12 hours a day and gets high test scores. Maybe the child with a wonderful sense of humor, practical problem-solving skills, and a willingness to help others will go farthest.

In school you are taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you are given a test that teaches you a lesson” Tom Bodett

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ESSA: Who’s Minding the Store

The National Association of State Boards of Education this week launched a website that tracks all 50 states’ boards of education meeting minutes regarding ESSA plans.


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DITCH THE TEST: ASSESSING WITHOUT TESTING

It is easy to test and report content knowledge. When students take a test they receive a score. Some “smart” people such as Bill Gates get high scores, while others such as Stephen King have mediocre test scores. Some people are good at taking tests and others take test-prep courses to raise their scores, but that does not make them smarter.

There are many ways to be smart. Large-scale tests do not measure a person’s emotional intelligence or will to succeed. In fact, Daniel Kahneman explains that higher IQ and SAT scores correlate with a bigger “bias blind spot” that makes them more vulnerable to believing their answers are correct.

People are too complex for one score designed to predict college success or 12 years of cumulative records to foretell their future. What is needed is a landscape of assessments, inclusive of and reaching beyond standardized tests.

A SPECTRUM OF ASSESSMENT  mount-hood-1757264__340A panorama of assessments displays a student’s knowledge, understanding and skills throughout the taxonomy. It may reveal how their interpersonal trees reach to the sky, but their swamp of emotions results in indecision.

 STEALTH ASSESSMENT is what happens when students do not feel as if they are being tested. With EdPuzzle a teacher can embed questions in a video and gather responses as students watch. More and more digital games can assess during learning; from historical events to fossils, and digital literacy to coding.integration-2031395__340

INTEGRATED ASSESSMENTS are blended directly into teaching and learning. Examples include formative assessments such as entrance slips, empty outlines, Humpty Dumpty, and 3-2-1. Alternatively, if a teacher is required to use a communal selected choice test, space can be provided for students to annotate their response; for example: “I picked B, but based on what you said in class about it, parts of C are also correct because…”

Assessment is about the process of learning, not merely the final outcomes. An SAT score may show an individual’s potential but other measures are also essential to show analysis and synthesis. Comprehensive methods are essential to get a full picture of each learner’s strengths and struggles.


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Practical Ways to Use Taxonomies

Thanks to EdWeek and Larry Ferlazzo for including my ideas on assessment and taxonomies at ow.ly/eRWc309Mhlj

 


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THREE LENSES OF ASSESSMENT

binoculars-100590__340 Telescopes, binoculars, and magnifying glasses each have a purpose in improving our ability to see. Assessment also has many purposes and perspectives. Yet, it is easy to lose sight of its fundamental function: To improve student learning by illuminating outcomes and informing instructional responses. This is achieved through alignment of instruction and assessment with learning intentions. The result is tangible evidence of purposeful learning.

Choosing the right lens and the just-right response takes mindfulness of purpose and finesse of process.

star-clusters-74052__3401. A telescope provides a big picture view of far-off and often indistinct objects. It may help us see distant galaxies or confirm that the universe is expanding. Big-picture assessments show large-scale data or trends in large numbers of schools and students. This may inform policy decisions, but in general, does not cause significant variations in classroom instruction or student achievement.

 
telescope-950907_960_7202. Binoculars bring things that are somewhat distant into clearer focus. With them we can see the conclusion of a race or people scaling a mountain. In schools, this level of vision can evaluate the relationship between guiding principles and learning outcomes. It can also validate a district’s curriculum or delve into sub-groups of students. As with the telescope, binoculars look at broad issues, but at the school level offer greater potential for influencing local practice.

magnify-butterfly-1282344__3403. A magnifying glass brings learning and assessment up-close and personal. Somewhat like examining a bug or mathematical operations to better understand how and why each part has its place and purpose. This helps teachers know the strength of student’s knowledge and skills as well as recognize lingering gaps. These lenses also improve teacher’s practice by highlighting areas that may need upskilling. (My new favorite word indicating that their abilities are valued, yet can improve.)

eye-lens-15699_960_720In brief, effective lenses makes assessment intentional, illuminating, and informative.


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Meet and Greet

You are invited to the Public Library of New London (CT) Annual Authors Fest, where over 50 local fiction and non-fiction writers have been invited to display and discuss their work. I will be featuring Formative, 21st Century, and Sticky Assessment and also my upcoming book on Restorative Assessment.9781138640917


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Best of Both Worlds

According to Schneider, et.al, “Best of Both Worlds”, Kappan, October, 2016: “Classroom-based data are superior to standardized test data if teachers validly measure student performance and develop ways of reliably reporting on it.”


Recent News

ESSA: Who’s Minding the Store

The National Association of State Boards of Education this week launched a website that tracks all 50 states’ boards of education meeting minutes regarding ESSA plans.

Practical Ways to Use Taxonomies

Thanks to EdWeek and Larry Ferlazzo for including my ideas on assessment and taxonomies at ow.ly/eRWc309Mhlj

 

Meet and Greet

You are invited to the Public Library of New London (CT) Annual Authors Fest, where over 50 local fiction and non-fiction writers have been invited to display and discuss their work. I will be featuring Formative, 21st Century, and Sticky Assessment and also my upcoming book on Restorative Assessment.9781138640917

Best of Both Worlds

According to Schneider, et.al, “Best of Both Worlds”, Kappan, October, 2016: “Classroom-based data are superior to standardized test data if teachers validly measure student performance and develop ways of reliably reporting on it.”

Assessment Literacy

Assessmentliteracy.org helps educators make sense of assessment. Their ideas support best practice in using all types of assessment with the goal of improving learning outcomes for all students.

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