Authentic Assessment – Ben – 16

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9 thoughts on “Authentic Assessment – Ben – 16”

  1. This is so well-said and heart-felt.

    “…learning that is forgotten after the test. And it’s really boring to learn that way, when you are trying to demonstrate to the teacher that you can do a certain task, when you are learning because you have to for a grade and not because you want to.”

    Another excellent point: the traditional multiple-choice tests they give are just testing rote memory. There is no higher-order thinking, and since there are no connections being made between new language and meaningful contexts. They are not capturing students’ ability to recall information fluently enough to participate (even nonverballly) in a conversation.

    It’s easy to cram for traditional tests, but not to show long-term growth.

    If we call them on this, like Ben, they will have to start to help their kids acquire, not just learn. It’s a major job responsibility they are neglecting: determining how deep and lasting language is embedded into students’ schemata.

    The best assessments are holistic and require creative expression. Our story retells are more holistic, not regurgitating information. Our student self-selected freewrites allow more dynamic student reflection and metacognition (as Steven points out). Our Listen and Draws allow students in a silent period to respond creatively to text.

    Thank you for sharing this experience. I love that we are psyching ourselves up to deal with these haters: our assessments kick their assessments’ butts.

    1. That’s why they want to force us to do more summative assessments-more formal tests: they misunderstand what assessments are. They want to compartmentalize language and not address it holistically…because their version of traditional teaching doesn’t address holistic communicative competencies. They want to spend two weeks on the subjunctive and then do a big formal test (with little or no evidence of the formative assessments they should be doing daily-the “teach to the eyes” formative assessments that should be driving their instruction). They down-play formative assessments so they have an excuse to summative assess the hell out of kids and then move on to the next chapter. Because it’s less work for them –less formative assessment and less modifying how they teach–and more data that makes them look good.

      This is not the actual purpose of assessment. Summative assessments should be done at the end of the course, and not weekly, monthly, or even bi-monthly. Despite what you may hear at these meetings, 90% of our assessments should not be summative, but rather formative (like what TPRSers are already doing daily).

      Plus, those summative assessments have to be holistic, not just focused on the subjunctive or discrete-points of grammar, which, as Ben points out, you cram for and forget–so we need to start questioning the validity of inauthentic “tests” as assessment.

      There is an argument that summative assessments (end of “chapter” tests) should be done throughout the course and build to contribute to their end-of-course final grade. It’s true that assessments should build to show growth over time, but then those assessments aren’t summative by definition, they are formative-because instruction is still ongoing.

      That’s not what data turds want to hear. They willfully misunderstand what “summative assessment” means and try to consider every little test a summative assessment-so they don’t have to revisit and go back to language they are “done with.” We as educators are obligated to use the results of those assessments (again: the class isn’t over, so it’s formative, not summative) to determine what kids are ready for next. Data turds don’t want to do this; they just want to move on to chapter 2 and change nothing.

      Now, Ben needs to turn the discussion around to: how are you using assessments to modify instructional (comprehensible) input? If we show off our formative data and how it has built up throughout the semester, we can LEAD the discussion on data. Lead it back to where it should be going: how are we using assessments to provide language in a comprehensible way that’s appropriate to their current ability level? If kids are failing, how are we changing how we instruct?

      Ben can share his example of providing feedback DURING instruction that actually benefits students. When his kids are failing ISA/jGR–Ben said he stops right then and there and addresses it, reminding them “you are being graded right now.”

      The next data meeting is going to be all Ben Slavic. He’s going to raise the most important question: are we collecting assessment during class fluidly enough and in a direct enough way to give clear, responsive feedback? Not weeks after the fact or when the “chapter” is “done.” Is feedback provided quickly enough to benefit students DURING the lesson? Is feedback authentic to what is happening in the lesson? Is this authentic assessment? Is it helping kids? Are kids growing? That’s the whole point of assessment.

  2. If kids are failing, how are we changing how we instruct?

    How / why would I change this with the very occasional student who just does not want to learn Spanish and so either skips class or disrupts the process. If what I’m doing is reaching 99% of the kids do I need to change what I do in the group because of that one kid?

    This is a hypothetical question and also a real one bc there is always “that one kid.” I typically try individual strategies rather than change what is working for the most part. I don’t like the idea of “giving up on a kid” but at the same time I’ve had to do that in order to stay focused on the majority / critical mass of students who are with me.

    It’s been difficult bc I am not allowed to remove students from my room* when they refuse to participate even if it disrupts the experience for others, so shame on me for not having a back bone, but I admit I have just let them be in the back of the room on their devices bc then they did not disrupt the process. They still failed. I still tried talking to them individually, reaching out to parents, talking to other teachers, trying in a non judgmental way to engage them, etc. Ultimately they chose to fail and I felt like I had to let them in order to not lose the whole class.

    *I can send them to SSR but only 1 at a time and only for 5 mins. It is even more disruptive than doing nothing bc these kids who are hell bent on not engaging just ping pong in and out of the room ranting and such every 5 mins. Talk about losing the flow! So I’m often weighing that vs just letting them play vid games quietly in the back of the room and failing the class. But it does create a paper trail.

    1. I know it’s hard, but my point was there is a direct connection between our instruction, assessment, objectives and curriculum. Ben assesses/gives feedback in class right then and there when he sees problems.

      If students aren’t getting it, we use authentic formative assessments to modify our approach. Traditional teachers use an over-reliance on summative assessments as a crutch to help them hobble by without appropriately responsive and authentic assessments.

      1. When we assess in the moment we show compassion. We build bridges. The message to the child is, “OK I know that this interacting with a real adult on a human level is new to you. I get that you are surrounded by screens and your parents many not be available for you and that your other teachers aren’t really looking into your eyes to see what you can do every day either. But I am. I am looking into your eyes in every class and when you are ready you can start to think about coming out of that deep hole you find yourself in down there inside that confusing teen body and you won’t have to hide anymore and you can stop thinking about killing yourself and we can have fun and learn some French. I’m waiting for you. I’m throwing little sparkly ladders and ropes with every story and I’m not going to judge you if you can’ be here with me in class because when I was your age I was down there deeper than you hiding inside my athletic accomplishments but I had to eventually break that image of a happy successful runner in Indiana and trade it for a real attempt at communicating with others in the real way and it only took me 50 years to do it and so I can wait for you and in fact I consider it my sacred professional obligation to do so. And if you never crawl out of that hole you are in right now I will love you and honor you by the way I teach you anyway and I will not say you are stupid and my constant message to you is that life is worth living. I will be your champion. I promise.” And then I will do whatever I have to do to assess that child in a loving way. Thanks to this current discussion on assessment here on the PLC, I am increasing my belief in TPRS as being something that can actually exist in schools. When Claire said it was The Missing Piece last week I didn’t get it but I do now. My prayer is “God grant me the strength to help children grow up” – that’s all I’m asking. That’s all I want.

  3. Alisa Shapiro

    For me in elem. I really feel I am modeling appropriate self control/regulation, interpersonal behavior/pragmatics, common courtesy and ‘the art of conversation.”

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