When I taught Spanish we referred to capital “C” Culture and lowercase “c” culture. Culture with a capital “C” referred to the arts and literature of the country while lower case “c” culture referred to how people lived their daily life.
I think we have the same issue with assessment. We are referring to two different concepts. Capital “a” Assessment is the high-stakes tests, the end of the year final, and the big unit tests. Lowercase “a” assessment refers to the formative assessments we regularly do in the classroom such as checking students’ standards-based homework, asking a student to explain a process, and analyzing how far a group has progressed in their performance tasks. These small “a” assessments give us specific information on students and inform instruction. They are “hinge” assessments that help us to redirect the focus of instruction based on the classroom data that we collect. We can use technology such as spreadsheets, databases, or word processing checklists to help us keep track and to analyze the data. Some new terms have developed to differentiate the two meanings: assessment of learning (Assessment) and assessment for learning (assessment).
Most educators only think of evaluating student learning as Assessment, not assessment. They panic over hearing about Assessments.
When you hear assessment which one do you think of? Do you focus on lowercase “a” assessments or capital letter “A” Assessments? How does technology help you in each?
© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007