Archive for the 'benchmarks' Category

“Fake” Formative Asssessment by Companies

When I do formative assessment workshops, I always include a section on what formative assessment is not.

Many school districts are buying into systems that supposedly do formative assessment.  Usually these systems test students every 4-6 weeks and often  provide a list of what skills the students have and do not have.  The programs may provide “remedial” work to help the students.    How many schools district would tell their athletic coach to wait until 4-6 weeks  to assess  the strengths and areas for growth for each player?  Coaches want their players to improve each practice.  How many school districts would tell their teachers not to assess students until every 4-6 weeks?   Classroom teachers need to be the ones to assess and help their students on a daily or weekly basis.

How many schools would want their coach to say generic statements like “work harder at passing  the ball” without giving the players better strategies for  passing the ball?  Unfortunately many systems provide just vague feedback such as “Organize  ideas”.   These systems do not offer students a choice of strategies; they simply provide one way of learning the material or do not even provide a strategy. Many systems just drill  the students.

Unfortunately, much of what “sells” for formative assessment is in fact just summative testing.

I define formative assessment as ” based on the students’ present learning condition, providing strategies so  the students can immediately begin to  achieve the desired goal”.  The classroom teacher is the heart and soul of formative assessment. Formative assessment takes place as part of the normal  classroom. It happens constantly in the classroom.  The teacher always  focuses on what the students are learning and how to help them better learn.

Here’s an article that gives some additional information.   http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/11/10/12assess.h30.html

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

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How Many Academic Firsts Do You Celebrate?

My wife and I went to see our son, daughter-in-law and our grandson. These parents proudly talked about each first success of the baby- the first time he rolled over, the first time he had cereal, the first time he made something move…

I wonder how proudly we talk with our students about their successes. Do you acknowledge each of the students’ firsts? Do you let your students know on a daily or weekly basis their successes? Do you break your curriculum down so that they can celebrate small successes instead of waiting until the end unit test to be able to show a success? Do you celebrate each success to motivate them in their learning? Do you celebrate each success to show them that they are moving forward? Do you celebrate each success so that when they find a task especially difficult they can look back to their previous successes and know that they can achieve this task? Do you scaffold the curriculum so that they can easily move from success to success or do you have a sink-or-swim approach to student learning? Do your students look forward to the next challenge so that they can show how well they are doing or do they dread the exercise that they know they will fail at?

How do you make your curriculum a success one for students so that they constantly have new learning firsts?

If you are interested in implementing formative assessment in the classroom, my book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students is available through Eye-on-Education.

Quarterly Benchmarks Programs and the Role of Teachers

Many companies are now selling quarterly or more frequent benchmarking of the students. The companies make it sound like the benchmarking will solve the educational woes of teachers and schools. I agree that benchmarking can provide a valuable summative assessment of the student. Unless the benchmark specifies what the student can do to improve than the benchmark is summative, not formative. The teachers have to spend time going through the data to figure out what each student needs. If a school’s solution is for a computer program to diagnose and then give formative feedback (i.e. have the student do certain activities which the benchmark happens to provide), I wonder what the role of a teacher becomes. Do teachers in such environments simply become managers instead of instructional classroom leaders? Does all their expertize get thrown away since the computer program does it all? Teachers could be working with small groups of students but then the benchmarking program would not have that information to keep track of students’ progress. How do teachers integrate these benchmarks into their class?

Flower Metaphor for Student Assessment and Accountability

Flower Metaphor

I like to take flower pictures. Depending on where I position myself in relation to the flower, it can be in the shadows or in the bright sunlight. Depending on my viewpoint of straight down, from the side or from the ground up, the flower looks very different. I may take a picture of a bunch of flowers or of one single flower. As I change a backdrop, the color of the flower may change and a light area becomes dark. At no time has the flower changed but each picture of it can be very different.

A flower is a good metaphor for assessment. An 80/100 on a test may be a horrible score, an average score or a very high one. An essay rated on the state writing rubric may score a 3/6 although the ideas in it are brilliant. A single state test does not show the many dimensions of student learning overtime.

Flowers are constantly changing just as our students, hopefully, are in their learning.

Let’s create flower albums of many different views of student learning for a single standard. Let’s look at the student’s progress from many different positions, angles, and backdrops. If we only concentrate on a few flowers (standards), then we can show the student in all his/her glory!

So how many different views of student learning do you have at present ? Use a spreadsheet or database to collect your various flower pictures of learning. Think of having your students create an eportfolio to highlight their many blooms.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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State Reading Summative Benchmark Panic: Why panic if we do formative assessment all year?

ELA panic or formative assessment

Whenever I talk to elementary and middle school teachers, I hear wait until the state ELA is over. Teachers are preparing students like crazy. Panic is felt in the elementary and middle schools.

Why?

The panic tells me that teachers are not fomative in their usual classroom reading activities and assessment. If they were assessing students all year on the required reading skills from the state assessment, they would not have to prepare students at the last minute. If the teachers had montored and adjusted instruction during the year, then their students would be prepared. Yes, teachers do need to give students the testing taking strategies for this particular assessment but that will only take a few minutes.

Avoid panic and incorporate formative assessments during the year. These assessments will mirror the state assessments. Incorporate learning peace into your classroom instead of panic.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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Know Students’ ELA, Math, Science, and SS scores before the benchmarks with technology

Standards, Benchmarks,and Technology Analysis

I think that our students should only take the ELA, Math, SS and Science state benchmarks only if we already know how well they will do and only if we have helped them become better in those standards throughout the year.

As educators, we want to know how our students are progressing on the state standards through out the year. We will measure their progress on a regular basis using the state-rubrics. We will record that data in a spreadsheet or grading program that allows us to see the students’ growth. At any given moment, we can identify what each student does well in and what areas students need to improve in.

Then the state benchmarks simply verify what we already know about our students. We know that we have helped the students grow in the standards through out the year through the many classroom standards -based assessments that we have given them.

Let’s get rid of last minute test prep and build standards-based learning into our curriculum. If we do benchmark type classroom activities through out the year, record, and analyze the data with technology, then we know how well the students are doing at any moment.

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State Benchmarks, Weekly Data Collection, Life long learning

The other night I was on a conference call with people around the state. I heard the comment about how much testing is being done in school and how much data collection is being done. Several people felt that collecting the data (taking state benchmarks) was interfering with instruction.

 

I have several reactions to the statement.

1) If we give benchmarks once a year, then we are only collecting a snapshot that probably is not a big enough picture to inform instruction. For example, for students to write two essays in three hours in an English Regents means that each essay is really a draft, not a finished product.

 

2) The benchmark results are transformed into data that is supposed to help improve instruction. However, with most benchmarks, the students in that year’s class have gone to the next grade level; the data should go to their next year’s teachers, not the present year’s teachers.

 

3) Teachers need to build formative standard-based assessments into their weekly instruction so that as they assess part of the state standard, they can build in adjustments (Remember M. Hunter’s Modify and Adjust?) I believe that unless we do this on a weekly or very regularly basis, then we will not truly improve student learning. Cramming at the end is not educationally sound. Gradually improvement (building on success) is sound.

 

4) Teachers need to have students collect their own data on how well they are doing. For example, how many students monitor their vocabulary strategy to see if it is effective for them? How many students monitor the words they write in a daily journal to see if they improve on the quantity of the writing (getting in the zone)? I have done both of these and find that students like to be able to monitor their own learning and make improvements. Sounds like life long learning to me ( I remember when that was a purpose of schools.)

 


RSS Education with Technology

  • Tech Integration Teacher, What time is it? August 23, 2016
    When someone asks what time it is, that person wants to know the time, not the history of the clock, not how a clock works, and not what other types of clocks there are. Classroom teachers want to help their students improve their academic learning through technology. Sometimes they need help with technology so they go […]
    hgtuttle
  • Curriculum Focus, Not Technology Focus July 28, 2016
    In my public school career I have been a classroom teacher, a technology integration specialist and a technology administrator. In my technology role, I served under the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction. She had a simple mission: Improve students’ academic learning. My mission was equally simple: Improve students’ academic learning through technology […]
    hgtuttle
  • Students React to Digital Badges: Pros, Cons and Interesting June 22, 2016
      ISTE 2016 By Harry Grover Tuttle, Ed. D. College World Language Students’ Preferences Digital Badges – 52%        Paper Certificates – 48% World Language: Can-Do Digital Badges Digital Badges Pro- – Breaks down proficiency more – Shows all badges at once – Is more attractive – Is more appropriate since we use […]
    hgtuttle
  • Digital Badges: Naming the Badge October 29, 2015
    Once teachers have selected what learning and what digital badges (individual or category badges; see previous blog), the teachers encounter another decision. What will they name each badge? Will they use the full name of the Common Core Standard or the national proficiency? For English, under “Speaking and Listening,”will they write out SL.2 “Integrate and […]
    hgtuttle
  • Digital Badges: Better Than Grades? October 19, 2015
    Teachers understand that the grade in a course consists of many different factors such as homework, participation , projects, tests, etc. Blodget observes that sometimes grades reflect attitude, effort, ability and behavior (http://www.academia.edu/9074119/Grading_and_Whether_or_not_Grades_Accurately_Reflect_Student_Achievement). Equally important, a letter […]
    hgtuttle
  • World Language Students Use of Mobile Devices in the Classroom October 5, 2015
    Do world language students use technology n the classroom? Do their  teachers go beyond having their students use technology simply for the drill and practice in vocabulary and grammar? Students can use laptops and mobile devices to hear authentic language, read authentic texts, read tweets about famous performers, see up-to-the-moment culture,  watch video […]
    hgtuttle
  • Digital Badges: Individual or Categorized Learning Badges? September 12, 2015
    The idea of digital badges sounds appealing for the digital children in classes. As teachers start thinking about digital badges, they have to figure out what badges will be awarded. The teachers can award social or academic badges. If teachers decide to use academic badges, then the teachers may base their badges on the Common […]
    hgtuttle
  • English +Common Core +Mobile = Success (ISTE2014 Poster -details) June 30, 2014
    Here are the ten examples I showed at my English + Common Core  + Mobile ISTE 2014 Poster Session: Based on CCSS Anchor Statements: L.2 Take a Conventions Mobile Online Quiz  to pick the  incorrect sentence from four choices (capitalization) SL.2  Evaluate audio recording of a  book chapter on mobile and predict for next chapter. […]
    hgtuttle
  • Global Cultural Learning Using Mobile Devices (ISTE Mobile MegaShare Presentation) June 28, 2014
    Based on my presentation at ISTE 2014 Mobile Megashare Why teach about other countries? Location: Large view to small on maps. Culture or culture. Find six similarities in a  mobile picture from another culture (“Wars are caused by differences, not similarities.”-Tuttle.) Tell one piece of information from each different Internet visual from a place in that […]
    hgtuttle
  • English + Common Core + Mobile = Success in Learning Poster Session at ISTE 2014 June 25, 2014
    In my ISTE Sunday 8-10 am poster session, I demonstrate many diverse mobile activities to help students achieve the English Language Arts Common Core Anchor Statements through mobile devices. The mobile activities focus on free common tool apps that are available on both the Android and the iPad. The students use the apps as a seamless […]
    hgtuttle

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