Assessment and Evaluation

"Education is more than filling kids with facts.
It starts with posing questions."
-D.T. Max

Formative and Summative Assessments

Formative Assessments
During every lesson I am constantly asking questions and monitoring student work to assess student understanding and determine what the needs are to help me know
Monitoring Student Understanding at Stations
which direction the lesson needs to go. One key strategy I use to monitor student understanding is through the use of questioning skills. I have found that I do not like to give answers, but rather ask questions for students to give me the answers. I believe this comes from feeling like my teachers "spoon-fed" me answers during most of my elementary education, making it more difficult to learn later how to think. Rather than repeating this process, my goal for students is to learn to think at an early age, at all cognitive levels developmentally appropriate; therefore, I tend to ask my students questions that will make them think. One way to ensure I ask higher level questions is to prepare questions in advance, but this does not always succeed if the lesson gets diverted do to students' need.

Other formative assessments beyond questioning skills that I commonly use are exit cards and homework. I find exit cards are more reliable of an assessment since there may be help received from home, which students know is acceptable and encouraged as long as they have not been told otherwise for certain assignments.
University Supervisor's Observation Form

Summative Assessments
One of the many responsibilities of a classroom teacher is to be able to design and implement valid and reliable summative assessments that show and document student learning. The assessment course I completed in the graduate program covered ten important steps that go into creating and implementing a paper and pencil assessment. The Simple Machine Test Creation is an example of a summative test that I designed for the third grade simple machine unit. A narrative about the third grade assessment (population, design, scoring, etc.), the test itself, the answer key, and a reflection of the creation process is included in the test creation packet. This artifact demonstrates the ability to design and create a valid and reliable assessment from the first step of unpacking the curriculum to the (soon-to-come) class and item analysis of the performance results.

The simple machines test demonstrates my ability to design and create a valid and reliable classroom assessment. The process began with unpacking the curriculum standard and the intended learning outcomes. I was able to analyze the content and the demanded cognitive levels in order to align the curriculum with the instruction of the unit, the curriculum with the assessment, and the instruction with the assessment. This continuous alignment is visually represented through the table of specifications.

After unpacking the curriculum and creating a table of specifications, it is important to determine which types of assessment items will be used. This unit shows that I understand the difficulties behind assessing all learning outcomes on a paper and pencil assessment and my willingness to use authentic assessments and cooperative learning projects to assess students’ higher level thinking. In addition, the test demonstrates my belief in using of multiple types of questions to adequately sample the content and cognitive levels.

When compiling the test, I was cautious of the layout and visual design of the test in order to prevent introducing error to the test. Another technique employed to reduce error was to follow multiple tips for creating a reliable test item for each question. These tips ensure that a correct answer most likely represents mastery of the intended learning outcome. By reducing the chance of answer choice patterns and other systematic error that enhances strong test-takers ability to perform well, I have created a valid and reliable assessment that allows me to trust the data collected and draw inferences on student learning based on the performance data.

After giving the assessment, I analyzed the data to see the true validity and reliability of the test. After I charted the aggregate results into the Table of Specifications to look at the results of the overall class, I also analyzed two students' individual
tests. The analysis provided me with information on which learning outcomes need the most focus during reteaching and which outcomes were mastered by the students. Further results and narratives from the analysis can be viewed from here.

Growth of Student Learning

It has been rewarding to see student growth over time. I was able to observe student growth in both third and sixth grade, even in five weeks within the placements due to my split student teaching experiences. In third grade, we modeled using a KWL chart as a whole group for our fraction unit. The students then were asked to complete an individual KWL chart on simple machines. While many charts remained on lower cognitive levels, I was impressed with a few exemplar charts of students. One of these charts is shown below (front and back). The student not only shows she understands the simple machines on a basic level, by explaining simple machine families and comparison of different types of the same machine (gradual versus steep inclined planes), the student demonstrates application and analysis cognitive skills.

Simple Machines KWL chart (front and back)

An example of growth in student learning in sixth grade can be seen in students' pretest and posttest scores on simplifying expressions with exponents and powers. As a class, the average number of questions missed on the pretest was 10. This number improved to 2 on the same posttest. Click on the link above to look at individual student scores and growth. I emphasized in bold the top five greatest improvements. It is worth noting that the average number of two missed questions on the posttest would have been even lower if students remembered to simplify negative exponents; they performed all other steps correctly.

Activity Based on Assessment Results

While many students were able to develop an understanding for how to "follow the recipe" of area formulas, there were quite a few students who fell into the common traps, such as multiplying the radius by in Area=Пr² instead of squaring the r, or multiplying r by itself, during the summative assessment. Therefore, for the While You Wait assignment the next day I created a sheet with four commonly missed problems from the test and wrote in an example of incorrect student work for each question. (I chose to write in the students' work rather than copying the students' work with their handwriting to prevent anyone from recognizing the handwriting.) The students' task was to find and correct the mistake(s) in the work. Below is the While You Wait worksheet provided for students.

Test Questions With Common Misconceptions Shown

Another example of creating instructional activities from summative assessments is from my third grade students. Weekly spelling tests scores were unsatisfactory, so I decided to increase the amount of instructional time spent on spelling in class and change the activities used with spelling. For example, I made games with the spelling such as "Scrambled Spelling" sheets with scrambled spelling words and making Spelling Trains in their spelling notebook during morning work (i.e. cat - tall - laugh - hill). There was a positive correlation between the amount of times spent on spelling activities in the classroom and increase in spelling tests scores.