Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rethinking Assessment for Learning

When people think of assessments they tend to think about pencil and paper tests. Tests are a very traditional assessment method, but unfortunately most pencil and paper tests tend to focus on lower level skills that consist of recall tasks (define, describe, identify, label, etc) and comprehension tasks (infer, interpret, predict, summarize) as identified on Blooms Taxonomy.  If we really want to assess higher level thinking skill such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and creation we need to rethink the opportunities we are providing to assess that learning.  What is the the best way to assess learning? How can you rethink student assessment to improve student outcomes?  These are questions that were posed to all LASD teachers last week during an afternoon of professional learning and growth.

How Teachers Assessed a Unit of Instruction Prior to Upgrading
As a teaching staff, we are having incredible conversations about the purpose of assessment in the learning process.  Teachers are experimenting with different types of assessments as they upgrade a unit of instruction.   Assessment does not always have to involve paper and pencil, but can instead be a project, an observation, or a task that shows a student has learned new concepts and skills.  These types of formative assessments are often called performance assessments.  Performance assessments are a measurement strategy based on providing students with authentic tasks such as activities or problems that require students to show what they can do.  

In preparing their students to work on performance tasks, teachers describe what the task entails and the demonstration of skills that will be used to evaluate performance. This requires a careful description of the elements of good performance, most often in the form of a rubric, and allows students to judge their own work as they proceed.  This helps to shift the ownership of learning for students from passive to active learning as students recognize what they will need to work on in order to meet the identified final outcome.  

The work we are collectively engaged in is powerful because I truly believe it will make a difference for student learning.  Just by rethinking assessment of learning we will be providing students with greater choice and voice in their learning.  As I reflect on my own learning experiences, I remember too many instances of studying material only to be forgotten after the test was complete and wonder how my own learning process would have changed if teachers changed the way they were assessing knowledge.

Following an afternoon of professional development, we asked teachers to share their type of unit assessment before and after their unit upgrade.  That evening, I entered teacher responses into a wordle to generate a visual image.  The results are inspiring!  Since larger words indicate more popular responses to unit assessments, we can tell that following an afternoon of professional development, teachers are making changes.  They are rethinking their assessments from the standard unit tests to move towards a broader variety of assessment types.  It is exciting to see how teachers in LASD are rethinking instruction.

How Teachers are Rethinking Assessment for a Unit of Instruction After Upgrading

by Alyssa Gallagher, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction

1 comment:

  1. Hi! this is very inspiring for aspiring teacher like me. Can you give concrete example of performance assessment that were used as an upgrade / replacement to traditional unit test and their effects (both positive and negative) to teachers and students.

    thank you,