Weekly reflection: Using assessment for learning…

New Zealand Graduating Teacher Standard 5.c

“Graduating teachers know how to communicate assessment information appropriately to learners, their parents/caregivers and staff.”

This week was my first week of real teaching. The week flew by and I have a lot to post on and not much time to write so I thought I would that I would use this week’s topic to reflect on student assessment.

In general most people think of student assessment as the traditional pencil and paper tests, and these do have their place. In order to plan for my current teaching unit I relied on the data from the students’ asTTLe tests to group students for instruction and work out what it is that I would be teaching them. Having met the students only a few times, I would have been lost without this data. Pencil and paper tests can also be useful for gauging student progress over the long-term because they are replicable and generally seen as being reliable.

But data is only a snapshot. When doing the grouping, my associate teacher jiggled a few of the group assignments students showing that the overall teacher judgement is still important. Human judgement obviously has a subjective aspect to it, but it does control for some variables that a test doesn’t have: knowledge of the learners.

The aspect of assessment I found useful was videoing learning as it was happening. During one of the lessons last week I wandered around with my video camera filming students and asking questions about the material. This data was just as interesting as the seeing them work through grasping the maths in the task to grasping the concept that I wanted to teach. It was a teaching moment eureka moment. But as I was making up my video, I noticed several students still had a misconception that needed to be addressed in a future teaching step. This type of authentic assessment was a gold mine of information. Obviously using video isn’t replicable and takes a huge amount of time to produce when editing down the footage (in comparison to making and grading tests) however I’m hoping the students will get a kick out of seeing their video and gain some insights into their learning.

If I was to make it better, I’d assign a student as a roving reporter and use their data to make up the video.

But my point was that student assessment has different purposes and can take many different forms, a teacher uses a variety of these assessments to inform their practice.

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