Educational Assessment in the Elementary and Middle School Classroom / Edition 2

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Overview

Brief and practical, this popular book focuses on what classroom assessment is and how to do it, and bridges the gap between testing a learner's knowledge of particular “information” and measuring his or her ability to transfer knowledge and think strategically.

Coverage encompasses all of the issues surrounding the use of classroom assessments (validity, reliability, bias, impact) through targeted discussions that address everything prospective teachers need to know, completely yet succinctly. The authors offer a comprehensive menu of techniques for assessing not only what learners know, but also how they think, how they perform, and how they apply what they know within authentic, real-world contexts.

For individuals administering tests,and implementing other measurements tools, for the assessment of students in elementary and middle schools.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130947895
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Two decades ago the National Commission on Excellence in Education published a report critical of American schools titled A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). That report cataloged some of our schools' failures, one of which was an inability to teach children how to think critically and apply what they have learned. Other reports followed, providing the impetus for educational reform that continues today.

The essence of these reform movements has been an attempt to have teachers teach based on the way the learner's mind works rather than on traditional views of learning that reflect solely a "mechanical" or behavioral view of human competence. In the last two decades teaching and learning have changed considerably, replacing a more mechanistic "drill and practice" view of learning with one that could embrace the excitement, thirst, and motivation for learning that all children start out with in life. These changes have led to a new view of learning and assessment in which learners are provided the opportunity to construct their own sense of what is being learned by building connections or relationships among the ideas and facts being taught. Philosophy of This Text

This new view of learning and assessment (Bruer, 1993) derives from nearly three decades of research by cognitive scientists. From studies of how the mind works, these scientists have accumulated a wealth of information about how learners become proficient in knowledge domains such as reading, language arts, social studies, science, and mathematics.

Today learning is seen as an active process by which learners construct "knowledge structures" or "mentalrepresentations." They not only construct these structures when teachers teach subject matter content, but they also construct the strategies needed for thinking about information and ways to become consciously aware of and improve the use of these strategies.

When teachers assess learning today, they can no longer simply test for knowledge with objective-type formats. Those tests, when taken alone, support a model of knowledge as collections of bits of information demanding fast responses in which the task is to find the correct answer rather than to engage in interpretation, critical thinking, and problem solving. Today, teachers must have a broader menu of tools to assess how a learner organizes new information, the strategies that a learner employs while doing this, and the metacognitive skills that a learner uses while consciously employing learning strategies.

Thus, a new technology of classroom assessment has arisen alongside traditional assessment methods. This book is an attempt to give the elementary and middle school teacher a comprehensive menu of assessment techniques for assessing not only what learners know, but also how they think, perform, and apply what they know in authentic, real-world contexts. This text is a gateway—a bridge between the old and the new. It provides the beginning teacher with a foundation of not only how to assess a learner's knowledge base with traditional objective-type tests and essays, but also how to assess a learner's declarative and procedural knowledge, cognitive and metacognitive strategies, skill in transferring knowledge to new contexts, and habits of mind by observing and recording what their learners actually can do when performing in authentic ways within the natural ongoing context of the classroom. Organization of This Text

With this goal in mind, we have woven a number of themes throughout the fabric of this book, making it unique and timely to new instructional methods and assessment techniques. These themes are

  • Motivation for learning and doing well in school occurs when assessments are learning experiences.
  • The skills that are assessed should be the skills that are practiced in class and required in subsequent learning.
  • Students become more engaged in learning when assessments represent challenging tasks encountered in real-world contexts.
  • A good assessment measures not only the products of learning but also the cognitive—or thinking—processes the learner uses to create them.
  • Assessments of specific subject matter should occur over time, during which the role of the teacher is to help the learner improve.

The first four chapters set the framework for these assessment practices. We call this framework "authentic learning assessment" because it attempts as much as possible to capture learner performance in natural classroom settings and with meaningful tasks that are steppingstones to subsequent learning.

In chapter 1 we present the highlights of recent advances in how learners learn, establishing the need for authentic learning assessment and its link with students' motivation to learn. The theme of this chapter is that learners will become more motivated to learn the more assessment practices measure their ability to perform and apply what was taught with tasks and activities that are meaningful to subsequent learning and to their world outside the classroom. In this chapter we show that how you engage your learners' memory—either as a static storehouse of facts or as a dynamic and fluid experience that can be stimulated into action by your assessment—will be important to your interpretation of what your students have learned. In this chapter we show you how your assessments can unleash the constructive and intuitive nature of your learners' own contribution to the learning process, and that your learners' motivation to learn is linked as much to how you assess as it is to how you teach.

Motivation to learn comes from a connection between teaching and assessment. The term authenticity characterizes this unbroken bond. In chapter 2 we review the importance of this bond by describing the science of cognitive learning and its principal findings aimed at teaching learners how to think and how they should be assessed. It demonstrates that thinking, especially higher order thinking, is best taught and assessed in your classroom in the context of real-world activities and tasks that your learners will be expected to perform outside the classroom.

Chapter 3 shows you how to select assessment goals and determine the learning outcomes you will measure. Establishing an assessment goal involves choosing the proper balance among norm-referenced, criterion-referenced, and growth-referenced assessments and establishing how you will set expectations, make a diagnosis, monitor learning, and assign grades. This chapter introduces the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives by Bloom and colleagues and Gagne's Learning Hierarchies to help you plan assessments. And, since standardized tests will continue to be an important feature of the school landscape, we discuss their strengths and limitations. In chapter 11, we return to this topic to show you how to accurately interpret standardized tests for students and parents and use them with your teacher-made assessments to guide what and how you will teach.

Your classroom assessments will accomplish their mission if they meet standards of validity and reliability. Chapter 4 presents both traditional and emerging definitions of reliability and validity. These will help you address two related questions: (a) How do you know that your assessments of student learning are measuring what you want? and (b) how do you know that your assessments of student learning are dependable?

Chapters 5 through 10 demonstrate how you can assess important learning outcomes using a variety of student- tasks, including oral performances, problem-solving activities, products, and portfolios. Chapters 5 and 6 cover how to assess your learners' knowledge base with selected-response (objective) and constructed-response (short-answer and essay) tests. You will learn in chapter 5 how to construct measures that reliably and validly assess factual knowledge, simple understanding, and knowledge organization using objective-type formats. And, in chapter 6 you will learn how to measure these behaviors with short-answer, essay, and open-book questions, dialectical journals, and concept maps. Chapter 7 describes how your learners acquire procedural knowledge (knowledge about how to do things) and the most appropriate ways to assess this type of learning. Chapters 8, 9, and 10 explain how to authentically measure higher order learning outcomes within the natural context of your class activities. Specifically, chapter 8 shows how to assess problem-solving strategies with observational tools; chapter 9 demonstrates how to assess deep understanding with performance assessments; and chapter 10 details how to plan and assess genuine achievement using portfolios.

Because standardized assessments play such an important role at the national, state, and school district level, in chapter 11 we present examples of their reporting formats and interpretation. Most important, however, this chapter is about how the results from standardized tests can work in harmony with the information provided by your classroom assessments to monitor student performance, inform your instructional decisions, and identify learning problems. We also show in this chapter what you can do to prepare your students for standardized tests. Finally, because grading is an important goal of classroom assessment, in chapter 12 we explain and illustrate how to construct an overall grading plan and illustrate various types of reporting methods. Applications to Practice in This Text

Embedded within each chapter of this text are classroom applications in which students are asked to stop, reflect, and apply what they have just read to a lesson or unit that they will be teaching. To help the reader make these transitions from text to classroom, real-life examples, often conveyed through the words and deeds of an experienced teacher, appear in boxes adjacent to the application. Then, at the end of each chapter students will find additional activities and questions for practice and discussion that review chapter content and make further applications to the elementary and middle school curriculum.

This book is written specifically for the elementary and middle school teacher. Its goal is to avoid "pie-in-the-sky" theorizing and to get straight to the heart of what elementary and middle school teachers actually do every day to assess learners in their K through 8 classrooms. To further accomplish this goal, this text illustrates each method of assessment with subject-matter content taken from state and national curriculum standards for Grades K through 2, 3 through 5, and 6 through 8 in the areas of reading/language arts, social studies, science, mathematics, and health. These Lesson Contexts, 180 in total, placed at the conclusion of each chapter, represent examples of actual lesson content and assessment questions that illustrate and apply each of the assessment practices discussed in the preceding chapter for assessing basic knowledge (chapters 5 and 6), procedural knowledge (chapter 7), problem solving (chapter 8), deep understanding (chapter 9), and portfolios (chapter 10). These content examples demonstrate each method of assessment in the context of subjects, themes, and topics that are actually taught in the K to 2, 3 to 5, and 6 to 8 curriculum.

In this manner, each chapter links assessment with the content children are actually taught at each grade. Our intent is to ground assessment with practical examples of what is actually taught and how it can be assessed in authentic classroom contexts. We strive to excite teachers about the possibilities for teaching and assessing knowledge, understanding, and performance at their specific grade levels. We want to help teachers articulately communicate what has been learned to parents, learners, and school administrators.

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Table of Contents



Preface.


 1. The Purpose of Classroom Assessment.


 2. The New Cognitive Science of Learning and Assessment.


 3. Developing a Framework for Assessment.


 4. Quality Assurance: Determining Reliability and Validity.


 5. Assessing Declarative Knowledge: The Objective Test.


 6. Assessing Declarative Knowledge: The Constructed-Response Test.


 7. Assessing Procedural Knowledge.


 8. Assessing Problem Solving.


 9. Assessing Deep Understanding.


10. Assessing Genuine Achievement: The Portfolio.


11. Understanding and Interpreting Standardized Assessment.


12. Developing a Worthwhile Grading Plan.


Glossary.


References.


Author Index.


Subject Index.

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