James Popham has long been an assessment-thinker with whom I share many beliefs. He hits it on the nose when he writes, "To support actionable instructional decisions about how best to teach students, norm-referenced inferences simply don't cut it" (2014, p. 64). NRTs have their place; I believe it is important for educators, parents, and students themselves to know how they stack up when compared to others of the same age or grade. However, if we really want assessment to make a difference in the classroom, then assessment must play a role much larger than just providing an official measure for a student's cumulative folder or report card.
“Grades, however, are just the most common manifestation of a broader tendency on the part of schools to value product more than process, results more than discovery, achievement more than learning.” (Kohn, 2007)
This week's reading included so many great moments related to what really matters when it comes to assessing student learning. Having spent a fair amount of time in early-career teachers' classrooms over the last several weeks, I have been thinking a lot about the connection between what students are "doing" in the classroom and the expected learning that will result.
Tomlinson & Moon's "Principles of Effective Grading in a Differentiated Classroom" should be posted everywhere in our schools...and we as educators should be quizzed on what each of these principles looks like in the classroom. Assessment and grading must contribute to learning and not merely serve as a punctuation mark at the end of a lesson or unit.
In theory, our understandings of what "assessment" means have changed in education over the last several years. However, in daily practice, I do not always see those new understandings manifesting themselves. And, honestly...it's hard to figure out why not. There are so many tools that lend themselves to engaging formative assessment. With 1:1 devices in our classrooms, why aren't students invited to "show what they know" in low-stakes approaches that reap high returns in what teachers know about their students...and in what students know about themselves and their own learning?
Virtually all teachers can specify what students will cover in a week or a unit of study and what students will do in a given sequence of learning. Few of us can specify with confidence and clarity what students should know, understand, and be able to do during those same time spans." (Tomlinson & Moon, 2013)
Grading everything students do discourages the very kind of grappling that is fundamental to complex thought and genuine understanding." (Tomlinson & Moon, 2013, p. 130)
As educators, we need to approach teaching and learning with a mindset that values assessment of all types...but we must also be diligent in insisting that data collected through assessment is purposeful and contributes to greater learning for each and every student. Assessment should never mark "the end"; rather, it should be the fuel that allows us to surge ahead with informed and engaging instruction and greater student learning.
Bond, L. A. (1996). Norm-and Criterion-Referenced Testing. ERIC/AE Digest. Retrieved from:http://www.ericdigests.org/1998-1/norm.htm
Brown, P. (2015). EdTech Tools Get Creative with Formative Assessments. edSurge. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/n/2015-01-12-edtech-tools-to-get-creative-with-formative-assessments
Common Sense Graphite. (Retrieved 18 Apr 2015). Top Tech Tools for Formative Assessment. Common Sense Education. Retrieved from https://www.graphite.org/top-picks/top-tech-tools-for-formative-assessment
Davis, V. (2015). 5 Fantastic, Fast, Formative Assessment Tools. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-fast-formative-assessment-tools-vicki-davis
Dyer, K. (2014). 33 Digital Tools for Advancing Formative Assessment in the Classroom. Teach. Learn. Grow. NWEA Education Blog. Retrieved from https://www.nwea.org/blog/2014/33-digital-tools-advancing-formative-assessment-classroom/
Hatboro-Horsham School District. (2013). Understanding Formative Assessments. YouTube video. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab4hbIsOonU
Kohn, A. (2008). Who’s Cheating Whom? Phi Delta Kappan. Retrieved from: http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/whos-cheating/ 13 April 2015.
Popham, J. (2014). Criterion-Referenced Measurement: Half a Century Wasted? Educational Leadership, 71(6), 62-68. Retrieved from Egan Library http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=94925708&login.asp&site=ehost-live
Tomlinson, Carol Ann, and Moon, Tonya R. (2013) Chapter 6: Assessment, Grading and Differentiation. Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD). ProQuest ebrary. Web. Retrieved from: http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=135&docID=10774725&tm=1428975296051 13 April 2015.