Assessment: For Who?

For the teacher?

     Assessment is very important to teachers because it allows them to see growth of their students in a variety of different ways. I believe there to be three parts to assessment. The first part of assessment is the introduction of the assessment to the students. This is when the teacher is able to tell her students what she expects from them and she will also show them how they will be assessed. If there is a mark attached to the assessment, the teacher will show the students how they can achieve a mark suitable for the work they do. If there is no mark attached then the teacher is able to divulge on the diverse ways she will be assessing their work. The second part of is the process of assessment. This can be the observation the teacher is making on students, it can be the students’ process of understanding or it can be the student working on something being taught. The final part of evaluation is the results. After going through the process of evaluation, teachers need a final mark to give students on what they accomplished. I believe that the most important aspect of assessment is the process of which the mark is obtained. This is where teachers find out the most about their students. This is where teachers teach and students learn. This is where teachers can find out where their students are at and adapt their teaching in order to better the understanding of the concept. If teachers are able to see how they are teaching and how the students understand the process; the students will have a better chance of succeeding in the end.

 

For the Student?

     The process of assessment does not matter to the students. The only thing that matters to them is the end result of how well they did. Students become very competitive when it comes to marks and assessment. They either strive to be the best in the class or they don’t care enough to try. Students believe that marks define who they are in school. I have seen this happen on many different occasions. In my high-school experience, marks were all that mattered to some people, including myself. I had to work hard to get the title that I was because my older sister was a slacker and did poorly. I had to prove to my teachers that I wasn’t the same as her and once I got those marks to prove it, I wasn’t letting go. It didn’t matter what work I had to do in order to complete the assignment, as long as I got a very high mark, I was happy. I have seen this in the elementary school as well; students who have anxiety attacks based on the fact that they got one error in math. Students are driven in school by the marks that they receive because it has been “standard” to succeed in school only with a high grade. Students are so used to the grade systems from years of dealing with them that even when we get to University and are told by some professors that marks do not matter and that it is the information being produced and understood that counts, we still focus on our mark in the end. I watch girls throw fits when they get an 80-85 (ish) because it isn’t a distinct mark being given. Students focus too much on the end result and don’t pay attention to what they are actually learning. Students need to realize that the actual reward is the learning that takes place in their work.

 

For the Parents?

     Assessment for parents is based around the final grade that is given to their child on their report card. Parents do not care how their child is being assessed but only that they succeed in the end. I have seen this on many occasions with my parents, my sister who is also a parent as well as parents I have met where I have taught their children. I remember bringing home an assignment that I did poor on and having my parents question me about why I didn’t get a better mark. My dad used to tell me not to worry because as long as my report card had good marks on it, it did not matter what the marks on my assignments were. My sister who is a parent of two school aged children and I have seen teachers send home rubrics on how the kids will be marked on certain things and my sister highlights the most excellent column and makes sure the kids know exactly how to achieve the best mark. I don’t know if it is just my family or if it is society today. Personally I believe that we live in a society where parents strive for their children to get good grades in school because everything nowadays is based around success. Some people like to deny that the world revolves around success but the reality is that it all starts in elementary school. Students and parents need to see success through grades; they do not care about the process of learning and assessment as long as there is a high 90s mark or an A+ on that page.

     The similarities of assessment lie between the parents and students focussing on the ending mark on the students work. As stated above, students and parents look at the end result to identify the successes of the student achievement. Teachers look at the process and the end result and how they coincide with each other to define student success. The whole understanding of where success is in the school system is mistaken in various aspects; the parents think it’s the end result, the teachers believe in the process. The whole success of students is on their learning and the potential they have achieved in their learning and understanding. It does not matter if a child takes a day, a week or a month to obtain a learning concept; the success lies in their ability to achieve that concept. The similarities and difference can be argued a great deal because the views and importance of assessment vary on different levels. Parents think one way, students another and teachers even a more different way.

EDUCATION AND MY TEACHING PROFESSION!!

     Education, student learning and student success play a huge part a teaching profession; all of which can be seen and proven through assessment. Everything in the education system is interconnected with each other; teaching is connected to learning, learning is connected to assessment, assessment affect teaching, it is a continuous cycle. “We use the general term assessment to refer to all those activities undertaken by teachers — and by their students in assessing themselves — that provide information to be used as feedback to modify teaching and learning activities. Such assessment becomes formative assessment when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching to meet student needs (Black P. & William D. Pp. 1).” My beliefs of education and my philosophy of assessment go hand in hand with one another.

     “Plants are shaped by cultivation and men by education… We are born weak, we need strength; we are born totally unprovided, we need aid; we are born stupid, we need judgment. Everything we do not have at our birth and which we need when we are grown is given us by education (Jean Jacques Rousseau, Emile, On Philosophy of Education).” Education is about making some sort of impact on your student’s lives; and about teaching students the knowledge that they need to move on in life and achieve their goals. Education is about creating the perfect teaching environment and accommodating the needs of every student in order for everyone to have an equal chance at success and for every student to thrive to achieve their ultimate potential. The minds of children are very creative and full of knowledge at the beginning of the school year; they just need that spark or light of the teacher to get their brains going. Children are like candles that need to be lit by an education that is provided throughout 13 years of schooling. As well as the knowledge end of teaching, students need to be engaged in what they are learning and have relevance to what they are learning of they won’t hold on to the information being presented. I believe that creating a healthy teaching environment for the students is essential because it will help keep them focussed and in like in the classroom. I also believe that the teaching environment extends far beyond the classroom, and that it is no confined to teacher-student relationships. Education can not only take the form of formal classes, but can also occur during informal conversation. I believe in the open door policy where the students can come to me at any time with any problem either in the classroom, on the playground, or at home. I believe my classroom will be welcoming to all students, parents, and other professionals to come and learn.

     “Methods of assessment are determined by our beliefs about learning. According to early theories of learning, complex higher-order skills had to be acquired bit-by-bit by breaking learning down into a series of prerequisite skill, a building-blocks-of-knowledge approach (Dietel, Herman, Knuth, Pp. 3).”  Assessment is created based around individual student learning. Assessments are “building blocks of knowledge” that allows students to build on their understanding and allows teachers to reflect on their teaching. Teachers take a great deal of information from assessment and evaluation. Teachers can see where their students are in their learning as well as they can learn more about the way they are teaching and how to adapt their teaching strategies to accommodate individual student learning.

      Accommodating the diverse needs to students in each classroom can be difficult but know the adaptive dimension and incorporating it into the classroom, teaching and assessment will help allow equal success of students. “The adaptive dimension refers to the concept of making adjustments in approved educational programs to accommodate diversity in student learning needs. It includes those practices the teacher undertakes to make curriculum, instruction and the learning environment meaningful and appropriate for each student (Saskatchewan Education. Pp.1).” Teachers have the capacity to adapt the curriculum, teaching strategies and assessment to accommodate all students learning. Knowing your students and their learning abilities is crucial for an educator because students cannot be taught as whole. Students are “parts” of a classroom and every part has its own job and it’s on contribution to the product as a whole. The idea that students are very diverse and the necessity to address the diversity in learning is what we have been striving for in the classroom.

     Howard Gardener once stated, “I believe that the brain has evolved over millions of years to be responsive to different kinds of content in the world; language content, musical content, spatial content, numerical content, etc.” This is the essence of the adaptive dimension. Students are diverse in so many ways whether it is their interests, their learning styles, their home life, etc. Students need adaptations to suit their needs and it is the responsibility of the teacher to do that for them and the teacher can do that through assessment. Teachers can have a variety assessment tools to allow students equal opportunity to show their abilities. Teachers can also adapt the amount of assessment that takes place. There may be some assignments and lessons that do not need to be assessed and then there may be some assignments that can be assessed using a variety of ways. I believe that some sort of self-assessment should be incorporated because it allows the students the opportunity to take ownership for their learning as well as it gives the teacher’s information on the student understanding.  The various principles of the adaptive dimension are the answer to address the issue of diversity.

     A variety of assessment can be addressed through formative or summative assessment. There are non-graded assessment and graded assessment that will allow students to show their diverse potential and allow for personal success. “Evaluation should be fair and equitable, giving all students opportunities to demonstrate the ex of their knowledge, skills, and abilities (Saskatchewan Education, Pp. 2).”  The guiding principles of students’ evaluation point out very distinct understanding of what assessment and evaluation should be. These guidelines are everything that I believe of education and assessment.

     “Formative assessment is intended to provide information for both teachers and student about the progress of that student so that corrective action may be taken to help achieve the desired learning outcomes (Saskatchewan Education. Pp. 9).” Formative assessment allows teachers to see where students are in their understanding and get a ball park idea of what they need to adapt to create success for the student. Formative assessment also allows students to see where they need improve. Formative assessment acts as a communication between teacher and students as well as teacher and parents. The communication between teacher and students allows for a better understanding to help them work together to create the best fitting assessment, assignments and atmosphere for student learning. The communication between teacher and parents allows the parent to see where their child is in school. Parents will then be able to help further their students learning with at home activities. The formative assessment also allows parents to see how their students are being evaluated in school and this will make parents a little more comfortable knowing that it is not the end result for their child. From personal experience, if my parents would have seen some sort of formative assessment on my sisters, they would have understood the end result. Formative assessment gives the reasoning behind the summative assessment.

     “Summative assessment is intended to provide information to be used in making judgements about a student’s achievement (Saskatchewan Education, Pp. 9).” Summative assessment such as rubrics and checklists allow the teacher to compare where students are on an average. Students need to be evaluated using summative assessment so the teacher can see where the students are and adapt their learning to help the student get to where he/she needs to be. Students need to be at a certain level of understanding before moving on in school and using summative assessments allow teachers to evaluate student understanding to see if they have reached the expected potential. Summative assessment is also what the parents need to see. Our society is wrapped solely around the equivalence of success and good grades. Arguments have arise based around how students should be assessed, my personal belief is that students need to be assessed using a variety of assessment tools; formative and summative. Students need the variety to address their individual understanding.

     My philosophy of education focuses on giving students equal opportunity to succeed and creating that environment where students can achieve. I can achieve that belief through assessment and I believe this is the first time that I have actually realized how important assessment is to my teaching. Teaching is connected to learning, learning is connected to assessment, assessment affect teaching, it is a continuous cycle, everything is interconnected.  Having a variety of assessments will help me evaluate my students and know my students needs so I can better their learning.  Assessment can tell a great deal about who the students are, what they need and what I can do as a teacher to help them.

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