Personal Assessment and Evaluation Philosophy
Before taking part in ECS410, I had a very narrow view of assessment. My knowledge of assessment and evaluation was limited to minimal understanding of formative and summative assessment. I knew feedback was an important part of the assessment process, but viewed it as a few comments placed beside a grade on a report card. After participating in this class, my definition and philosophy surrounding assessment and evaluation has expanded greatly and now includes involvement of parents and students, validity and reliability, triangulation, and a variety of practices that ensure assessment and evaluation is completed in the most appropriate way.
One important aspect of assessment that has become clear is the understanding of who should be involved. My previous belief was that students only played a small role in assessment and that teachers were solely responsible for assessing students work. Through readings and experiences in my pre-internship, I now understand that allowing students to be a part of the assessment process gives them responsibility over their learning. Even in early elementary classrooms, students are able to see what they did well and what they could improve on. Providing students opportunities to assess their own work allows them to “gain insights that help them monitor their learning, as well as practice giving themselves descriptive feedback” Davies, 2011). One way students can assess their own work is through self-assessments. Self-assessments are a simple way to ensure that daily classroom practices are linked with assessment. These can be made into many different formats including rubrics, questions about student work, a number scale, or circling thumbs up or thumbs down to represent how students feel about their work in younger grades. Because of the multiple ways of presenting self-assessments, they can easily be modified for individual students to complete. When teachers are able to view a student’s self-assessment, “teachers gain a better understanding about where students are in relation to where the need to be” (Davies, 2011). Involving students in the assessment process ensures students claim responsibility for their learning and allows teachers to communicate feedback in a way that is the most beneficial to the student.
Not only are students an important part in assessing their learning, but it is beneficial when parents are involves as well. Parents can be involved in the learning process by “invitations to share information, goal setting conferences, and checking in (Davies, 2011). Goal setting conferences are a positive way to assess learning with parents and students and decide what areas of learning need to improve and the areas that the student is doing well in. These conferences can help teachers understand areas that they may need to focus on or emphasize with a particular student before a final evaluation is completed. I believe the involvement of families in the learning process is often undervalued as “Family involvement has been found to be a key element to providing what is now best practice in the field of early childhood education” (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). If we truly want our students to succeed and have a desire for our assessment practices to be for the benefit of students, we will ensure that there is some type of regular family involvement in the process.
Because assessment can be such a complex system, it is important to ensure that it is reliable and valid. Reliability “refers to students producing the same kind of results at different times” while validity refers to “the extent which the evidence from multiple sources matches the quality levels expected in light of the standards or learning outcomes” (Davies, 2011). In order to ensure assessment is both reliable and valid, it should come from multiple sources over a specific period of time. This process is called triangulation and allows for assessment to occur by observations, conversations, and collection of products. Observations may include reading skills, listening and speaking skills, drafting, group activities, or participation, conversations may include student conferences, self and/or peer assessments, and products may include daily work, projects, quizzes, writing samples or speeches (SECPSD, n.d.). When creating a unit plan, it is important to plan for assessment and evaluation. Incorporating opportunities for triangulation throughout the unit ensures that there is a variety of evidence and an appropriate amount of evidence of learning.
The evidence of learning that is collected during assessment will influence how the final evaluation is completed. Evaluation differs from assessment in that is product oriented. Evaluation occurs when evidence of learning is applied to grade level standards and graded (Easy Learning Management Strategies, 2020). Before evaluating, it is important that all of the evidence of learning is revisited to make sure the right evidence has been collected. It is critical that enough valid evidence is collected to portray an accurate representation of what the student has learned in order to evaluate correctly. Evaluation should be planned at the end of a unit ir close to the end when the teacher has had numerous opportunities to provide detailed feedback to students and students have had opportunities to practice the skill in a variety of different ways. Teachers may “interrupt learning if [they] evaluate too often, whereas assessment information can guide instruction and support learning” (Davies, 2011). Teachers should be using assessment to understand when the appropriate time to evaluate is, based on valid and reliable evidence.
There are numerous ways to ensure that assessment and evaluation links with daily instruction in the classroom. During my pre-internship, I tried to incorporate some type of daily assessment in my lessons so I could track how students were progressing and if there was anything I needed to revisit from that lesson. I provided students with science journals and as they were experimenting or observing at stations around the room, they would write and draw their discoveries in their notebooks. Each night I was able to see where students were at after the lesson. I also incorporated simple exit slips into a few of my lessons. This allowed students to self-assess if they were feeling confident about what they learned and this allowed me to identify students who may require additional support. I also developed games for students to play relating to my science unit. While students were playing these games, I had a checklist with students’ names When I saw a student who was experiencing difficulties answering the questions, I would make a mark on my sheet so I could check in with them and figure out what content needed to be revisited. There are numerous ways to incorporate assessment and evaluation into the daily classroom setting and as long as it is planned out well at the beginning of the unit, it will ensure the appropriate evidence is collected.
This experience has taught me that assessment and evaluation are complex concepts that continue to change with time in the classroom. I understand the importance of planning for these in advance to ensure the process is done correctly. Assessment and evaluation practices are continuously evolving, as should our philosophy around assessment and evaluation.
Bredekamp, S., & Copple, C. (1997). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children
Davies, A. (2011). Making classroom assessment work 3rd edition. Courtenay, BC: A. Davies Duncan Holdings Inc.
Easy Learning Management Strategies. (2020). Assessment vs evaluation: What’s the difference? Retrieved from https://www.onlineassessmenttool.com/knowledge-center/assessment-knowledge-center/assessment-vs-evaluation/item10642
South East Cornerstone Public School Division. (n.d.). Module 3- Triangulation of assessment. Retrieved from https://portal.secpsd.ca/group/u3okirn/Pages/default.aspx#/=