Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Never, ever, ever, change how you assess your students.

Goal of the week: At this point... survival. This week... with the D.O.T. project, my graduate class that was listed on the syllabus as not meeting (but actually was! and we're all in a sling over that one for not showing up despite the syllabus saying not to show), a half-day at school that most of the staff keeps telling me isn't supposed to happen but still is, surprise ISTEP testing that I didn't know about (yay, more screwed up scheduling...), and my tax man telling me I'm missing forms... GAH! Oh... I forgot that I have to show up at my graduate school more this week than normal. I guess this is pennance for missing a class. I just want to survive.

Thought of the day: Never, ever, ever, change how you assess your students.

Assessment - that's teacher speak for figuring out how your well your students have absorbed what you've tried to get into their heads - is a whole big can of worms in the education industry. There's tons of literature written about it. I find it fairly interesting because most people in teacher-kind like to focus on the type of assessment you do at the *end* of teaching a whole bunch of stuff to kids - called the SUMMATIVE assessment.

There's also the kind you do at the *beginning* where you figure out how much the peeps know about what you're trying to teach them. Think of this as determining their level of background knowledge so you don't have to cover material that they allready know. This is called a FORMATIVE assessment. I remember it by thinking of their formative years. :)

I like learing about assessment. Here's something that I learned the other day in my graduate school class:

"Based on the educational research - it doesn't matter as much how good a teacher is at a subject but rather it matters MORE how good he/she is at ASSESSMENT when raising *student achievement*"

In layman's terms: I suck at math. I can still raise kid's ISTEP scores teaching Algebra even if I suck at math. How? If I'm good at assessment (knowing how to test well and effectively). That's pretty cool.

Apparently, I'm still learning. Why? I tried to switch up the format of the test in my classes because the kids weren't doing so well. I had this format of all Multiple Choice, True and False, Matching, and One Essay. I changed it to all short answer figuring the kids could try writing or drawing out their thoughts because they were bombing the other tests.

Kids were just not answering - like filling out all C's. Or all Falses. I wanted to make them try.

The students all got horrifyingly mad at me. I feel like the Evil Stepmother right now.

Actually, I feel like I did the right thing but went about it in the wrong way. I need to make the kids work for it. They have been babied too long and they can get away with not trying on a test. High expectations and No Excuses. That's the motto of my program and I take it to heart. I will push them and love them while I do it - for their own good... but I need to help them up to it.

The problem is how to explain that to them...

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