by A. Kaye
According to Brown and Knowles (2007) the main purpose of assessment should be the improvement of students learning. Focusing on meaningful learning experiences provides more significant information to drive instruction rather than focusing on the number of facts that students have memorized. Three basic principles that should be employed when developing an assessment training program for teachers are: 1) assessments should be connected to curriculum and instruction; 2) students should actively participate in the creation of their own assessments; 3) assessments should be authentic in order to lead to meaningful learning.
In order to support effective understanding and application, there are some components of assessment literacy that are essential. For instance, an assessment program for teachers should contain the difference between classroom assessments and accountability assessments. That’s because many teachers feel pressured by their administrators to score high in the standardized tests and make “teaching for test” their number one priority. Classroom assessments are comprised by formal and informal procedures that teachers use to make accurate inferences about what their students can or can’t do yet (Brown and Knowles, 2007, p.190). That said, it is also important to present a sub-topic of classroom assessment which is alternative assessments. The latter provides meaningful learning experiences through the creation of students goals. Other advantages of alternative assessments are that it provides choices for students to demonstrate their learning; allows flexibility; provides opportunities for self-evaluation; encourages students’ thinking process development and promote authentic connections. Another important component of this type of training would be the significance of genuine feedback.
Genuine feedback is the key difference between assessment of learning (traditional and standardized testing) and assessment for learning (assessing students so that teachers can help each of them grown cognitively). The point is to demonstrate to teachers that assessment is not only about giving students an A, B or C grade or a percentage number, but most importantly guiding them towards improvement. Routinely assessments and continuous feedback also mitigate the problem of students’ anxiety during accountability tests. Students’ participation in their own assessment should also be covered by an assessment training program. If students can and should participate in how they will learn information, they could and should participate in how they want to demonstrate their new acquired skills. In this way, students actively take ownership over their leaning experience. It is important to invite the teachers to think reflectively about the purpose of assessing their students. In other words, academic growth should not be a “point in time” measurement but a continuous process, thus, the importance of goal creation, continuous feedback, students’ inputs, and assessment-curriculum-instruction integration. “Student motivation is an end result of the powerful connection of curriculum, instruction and assessment” (Brown and Knowles, 2007, p. 189).
An assessment training program should be proposed based on the evidence that today’s teachers know little about educational assessment and many feel pressured by scoring high on standardized tests and end up “teaching for the test” instead of truly measuring their students’ knowledge and guiding them towards academic improvement. The benefits of taking this type training is that staff would be provided with the opportunity to think reflectively about students assessments, meaningful feedback and how to align meaningful assessment and State requirements.
Brown, Dave F, and Trudy Knowles. “Understanding the Young Adolescent’s Physical and Cognitive Growth.” What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.