Reading Reflection #6: Test Improvement, Formative Assessment

Ch11 p. 267 #1: Why is it difficult to generate discrimination indices for performance assessments consisting of only one or two fairly elaborate tasks?

I think that it is difficult to generate discrimination indices for theses types of performance assessments because of the lack of variety.  If you create a test with only one elaborate task on it, it will inevitability be a poor assessment of a classroom full of students with different backgrounds, gifts, and abilities. A performance assessment that is lacking variety in its type and level of difficulty will not be an accurate look at the class as a whole. Since this would not be a holistic look into an entire class of learners, the discrimination indices for this assessment would subsequently be weighed to one side.

#2: If you found there was a conflict between judgmental and empirical evidence regarding the merits of a particular item, which form of evidence would you be inclined to believe?

This is a difficult question, and I believe that the answer would be different based on the classroom and subject at hand. Since I teach visual art classes through the form of technology, a majority of my assessments would not usually fall well into the category of numbers. This is not to say that I am against “numbers” as the reading suggested. However, I do believe that certain assessments fit better in certain classes. My classes are project based and do not provide many situations where there is an “available wrong or right answer” because of how subjective art can be. With that said, I would be more inclined to believe judgmental evidence because it would display a well-rounded viewpoint of a student’s learning in my class. This type of judgmental procedure would also be on multiple chopping blocks from myself, colleagues, and eventually students so that it can be as effective as possible.

Ch12 p. 303 #2: What strategies do you believe would be most effective in encouraging more teachers to adopt the formative-assessment process in their own classroom?

I believe that if teachers were able to see how well formative assessment is focused on student growth, they would jump at the opportunity for such an activity. “The reading said that formative assessment is “a process, not a test”, which I think would be an important feature to highlight when encouraging teachers to adopt this approach. Teachers already know that a student’s learning is a journey and not just simply a destination. I think that the idea of “learning progression” would be an important aspect to highlight because it shows that formative assessment aligns with the scaffolding plan that hopefully is already set up in the classroom. This learning progression shows teachers how effective it is to have a target curricular aim, to then define the necessary building blocks to reach that target, and then arrange those building blocks in sequential order.

#4: If you had to choose the single most important impediment that prevents more teachers from employing formative assessment, what would this one impediment be? Do you think it is possible to remove this impediment?

I would say that the impediment that prevents teachers from employing formative assessment is the failure for external accountability tests to accurately mirror the improvements that occur in the classrooms where formative assessment is used. I think that most teachers would be excited to use formative assessment in their classrooms because of the overall positive effect that it can have on students’ learning. However, teachers still need to deliver evidence to the state. If teachers see that the external tests do not display the evidence that formative assessment gives, then they will not be motivated to concentrate on formative assessment. I think that teachers would first focus on getting students ready for high stakes tests, and if there is time left over (and there is usually not), a teacher might then try out formative assessment. I hope that it is possible to remove this impediment, but I don’t know how. The last teaching conventions that I attended did focus on formative assessment, and I hope that this could be a trend that motivates the academic community to try something new.

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One thought on “Reading Reflection #6: Test Improvement, Formative Assessment

  1. You are absolutely right that formative assessment is a “process” and it is focused on student growth. Formative assessment helps teachers be responsive to the needs of their students by allowing this feedback to “inform” subsequent instruction. I think if teachers are truly using formative assessment effectively and in alignment with the standards and their goals for instruction, formative assessment would be supporting students’ progress towards success on the standardized tests, not in conflict with these tests.

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