Question About Summative Assessments

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23 thoughts on “Question About Summative Assessments”

  1. Dana. It has to be circumvented. People in ed do it all the time. You can weigh 80% as your school says but do as little as possible.

    On the forum I posted my “final” exam. You get a story and have them draw their favorite scenes. Have them write a caption if you wish.

    The point is that beginning students are still interpreting meaning. This requires time. Dont do speaking. You can also do a dictation as minimally as possible have them correct it in class with a red pen.

    I dont know about anyone else. I am trying to build my program not destroy it.

  2. I feel your pain Dana. I have the exact same thing 80-20. I managed to circumvent it last year, my first year in this school and the school’s first experience with me and my CI ways!

    I feel simultaneously great and nervous about how everything is going so far this year (only 7 days in), and love Steve’s summative which is basically what I do with a few different variations to mix it up.

    I’m nervous because this year I will need more “data” and documentation since we have an upcoming reaccreditation. We have to submit unit plans, lesson plans, curriculum, student work samples, measurable outcome, blah blah blah.

    I feel confident in showing all of the above with a rubric, but I don’t really know how to translate the rubric into a grade. What I did last year was arbitrary. For a 4 point rubric I did 4=95; 3=85; 2=75= 1=65

    But that doesn’t really work and I had to keep tweaking the numbers, mostly because 65 is passing at our school, and 1 indicates no evidence of comprehension so ???

    I strive to spend as little time and energy on any of this.

  3. So in this process of attempting to adapt our CI instruction to the current demands of the “system”, I’m wondering: Does the grade have to be in sync with meeting the standard? In other words, is it really necessary to try to give a number grade to a 4-3-2-1 on a rubric attached to a PI?
    Say that when March burnout creeps in we use a few classes to comply with this SBG nonsense and attach a rubric to a free write and thus check the box for the PI “Comprehends and produces vocabulary in appropriate contexts”, you attach a rubric to a graphic organizer synthesizing information from any reading, and you check the box for the PI: “Identifies main ideas, topics and specific information in a variety of materials”, and so on and so forth.

    For the actual number grade you use the jgr rubric and quick quizzes (or not). In truth the number grade is all that students and parents really care about as long as the kid isn’t held back because they do not meet one or more PIs.

    Is my thinking flawed?

    1. …is it really necessary to try to give a number grade to a 4-3-2-1 on a rubric attached to a PI?…

      Only to keep our jobs, in my opinion. We do what we need to do, knowing all the time that assessment, even aligning with the proficiency guidelines, is bogus. Why bogus? Because if it takes thousands of hours to gain command over a language, and we in the first 250 hours (two years of secondary language education of which half the time is wasted because it’s not comprehensible input) start labeling our students proficient or not when they have a fraction (250/10,000) of the hours necessary to show up on that scale, then we are being rather foolish in our high-minded professional data gathering. It’s a joke. I have a lot more to say about how I think we should do summative testing. It’s what Claire says.

  4. What you describe, Laura, is exactly my experience. Especially the part about the kids and parents concerned only with the numbers, because even though we have “SBG” there is still GPA. It’s all a big swirl.

    At my school, 3 is meeting the standard or “meeting the competency.” But in the online grading system , a 3 (which I would have thought was a “b” or like in the 80s) is actually a 70. So it is very wacky.

    I was thinking that this year I’d just do the straight up rubric descriptors 4 3 2 1. Simple, no? And describes where the student is, right?

  5. I have to fit my grading into a grade book that works of percentages, but fortunately I can set my own scale. I also have to make at least 60% of grades summative. This is what I have worked out:
    Formative Interpersonal = 25%
    Summative Interpersonal = 40%
    Formative Interpretive = 10 %
    Summative Interpretive = 20 %
    Formative Presentational = 2%
    Summative Presentational = 3%
    I use this scale in all levels.

    I do scoring on a 5-4-3-2-1-0 scale
    5 = Advanced; exceeds standard
    4 = Proficient; meets standard
    3 = Basic; nears standard
    2 = Below Basic; falls below standard
    1 = Far Below Basic; falls far below standard
    0 = Nothing; no assessment possible

    In practice, since I teach for Proficiency, I assume that all students are proficient. Only when a student performs at a level other than Proficient do I have to mark something for daily interpersonal communication. For more formal assessments, I mark something for all students. This has the advantage that, should I overlook a quieter student, the assumed grade will be 80%, or a B(+). If the student then gets a 5 on written work and nothing lower than a 4, the final grade will be an A. (As the teacher from whom I got much of this says, “Anything above a 4 is a 5; anything above a 3 is a 4; anything above a 2 is a 3; anything above a 1 is a 2.” Yes, I chose to make each number the highest score for the corresponding letter grade (see below) rather than put it in the middle. So far no one has complained.

    Starting at the bottom, I assign marks as follows:
    0 – student didn’t even show up; I have nothing upon which to give a higher score
    1 – “Thanks for showing up”; a student who writes his/her name on a piece of paper and hands it in will receive a 1
    2 – significant room for improvement – exactly what this means depends on what is being assessed
    3 – getting there
    4 – proficient
    5 – above and beyond

    The conversions in the grade book are as follows:
    5 = 100%
    4 = 80%
    3 = 60%
    2 = 40%
    1 = 20%
    0 = 0%

    To get this to work, letter grades are set as follows:
    100% = A+
    81-99% = A
    61-80% = B
    41-60% = C
    21-40% = D
    0-20% = F

    This is how I have accommodated my grades to my district’s system. It is not ideal; it is not what I would do on my own; I make it work. I also enter as few grades as possible and reserve the right to adjust grades to reflect what I know students have acquired.

    I got some of this from a Science teacher at one of the other high schools in the district. The reason for the percentage spread is to make the grading more equitable. After doing some research on the history of grades and grading, I am convinced that this is at least fairer to students as well as being more accurate. If a five-question (or ten-question) quiz is graded on a standard 100-point scale, the margin for error is as high as two letter grades. The wider spread is actually more accurate, and 4 to 9-point scales were common before the 1950s, when computers began to be widely used. The 100-point scale exists because it is easy to program, not because it has any pedagogical support or rationale; it was created for the convenience of programmers, not for the benefit of teachers and students.

    In trying to explain it, I recognize that it looks very complicated, but it works very well for me without much effort. My grade book program does all of the calculating after I have set the scores and percentages.

    1. A couple of other things:

      When I create a rubric, I create a rubric that indicates “Proficient”. Anything that exceeds that rubric is obviously “Advanced”. Anything that fails to meet the rubric is “Basic” or below. I don’t see a reason to spend a lot of time trying to define the bare minimum a student can do to just barely get by because students who aim for that don’t usually care much. I am more than happy to sit down with the student and discuss why I considered the work “Below Basic” or “Far Below Basic” – but students who are shooting for this don’t generally ask about it. I have far more substantive discussions of what a student can do to move from “proficient” to “advanced”.

      For Interpretive Communication, I try to get students to bring their higher-level thinking to simple language. So, a lot of interpretive assessment is in English. Or else students copy from the text using something like Essential Sentences. I saw a benchmark test for Spanish from my district, and it showed clearly the problem with asking Interpretive Communication questions in the target language. Students were asked to read an e-mail from a teenager to a friend who was coming to visit, in which the teenager listed a number of things they would be doing. In the text, the teenager wrote that – among other things – they would go to the beach. (Ir a la playa) The correct answer in the test was that they would be going “a las orillas del mar” (to the shores of the sea). “Playa” is word 1713 in the Frequency Dictionary of Spanish; “orilla” is word 2096 – over 250 places lower in the list. I know that it is used far less frequently among teenagers than “playa”. If a student misses the question, is it because the student didn’t understand the common word “playa” … or is it because the student didn’t know the less common word “orilla”?

      1. It is complicated but it seems well reflected on Robert. As for the Spanish benchmark, i find that most native speakers would know playa and some may not even know orilla del mar. The latter being unnecessarily academic or formal even cumbersome. Even when I was in France we would always say a la plage not au bord de la mer.

      2. Doesn’t it seem that a lot of interpretative assessment is a question of synonym recognition which is a way of doubling the vocabulary lists without increasing communication?

        1. As such, the unstated comment is that you can pass the test if you are at the Novice level of words and phrases whether or not there is understanding of the message communicated.

    2. After reading some of the other comments, I realized that part of what made my comments look so complicated on paper but easy for me to use is that I left out some important information.

      I do not have six sets of rubrics. I have only Interpersonal, Interpretative and (barely used) Presentational.

      So what is the difference between formative and summative grades? Timing. I use the same kinds of assessment for both. In fact, the last jGR evaluation is the summative one and reflects all the ones that have been occurring throughout the year. Same goes for everything else: I just call certain ones summative and leave it at that. No one checks to see what any of my tests, quizzes, etc. look like. I do have to turn in a copy of my finals, but no one really looks at that, either.

  6. To my little pea brain, all of this seems complicated and a LOT of work.
    I want to find the way to do it as little and simple as possible so I can keep my job and have time and energy for quality interactions with the kids.
    Having to isolate and assign rubrics and values to what we do in class is not my idea of good use of time.

    1. Agree wholeheartedly Laura! I just wrote a post but it evaporated.

      I’m planning on studying and adapting Claire’s rubrics. She has developed rubrics for the different tasks we already do. I’m trying to super simplify. Anything I call a “test” or “benchmark” is going to be something I already do and it will fall under one of 3 categories: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, interpersonal skills / negotiating meaning.

      Ideally (for MY pea brain) I only want 3 different rubrics. ISR, one for listening and one for reading. I’m not sure, but it seems like I could make the listening rubric encompass “listen and draw” and “listen and retell in English?” Same for reading, right?

      Is this overly simplified?

      1. I love the pea brain comments because we are all just little pea brains trying to survive the system and just reach our kids with more and more language as Laura says above. So no jen what you write is not over simplified; it’s mean and lean:

        …anything I call a “test” or “benchmark” is going to be something I already do and it will fall under one of 3 categories: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, interpersonal skills / negotiating meaning….

  7. In my opinion Jen, your three rubrics seem enough. It all depends on how much oversight you’ll be getting.
    I’ve told admin that I cannot assess any output in yrs 1 & 2 so no speaking or presentation rubrics there. I’m entering the quick quiz under one PI or the other as to fill in a chart.
    If I’m required to use an output rubric in levels 3 & 4 it will be the minimum necessary and really easy. I’m still confused and don’t know exactly how will this be judged by administrators.

    Can you point me to Claire’s rubrics please?

  8. Nancy McLaughlin

    Hello everyone, I’ve been reading these comments on assessments because I am trying to figure out what I am going to do. I have been given administrative blessing to use CI this trimester (12 weeks) and can alter the assessments as I like. My dept head is going to have a fit b/c I’m not going to give the unit tests and I’m not sure about the final. My principal says as long as I’m assessing the same standards (hard to do when the tests are grammar and vocab based), I can assess how I want to. I’m trying to lure my 3 colleagues to CI but have had a ton of pushback.
    We also have the 80/20 but I can use it how I want to. My dept. head WILL want to look at my assessments. As long as I have a solid approach and reason, I’m not worried. It’s just getting to that point. Given that these posts are over a year old, I’m hoping for some insight in how you’ve been assessing.

  9. Nancy said:

    …my principal says as long as I’m assessing the same standards (hard to do when the tests are grammar and vocab based), I can assess how I want to….

    To be clear, as you imply, but it needs to be said all the time, CI instruction aligns w standards; grammar, vocabulary and the memorization of lists does not. So they are the ones who should be under a microscope not you Nancy. Too bad you have to be “given permission” to do what aligns w standards and the research. Posts on this topic here can be found in the “Administrator/ Parent /Teacher” category and in the Primers.

    The curriculum is the language as a whole as illustrated in and defended by the Three Modes of Communication (search here for some articles from previous years).

    The instruction should reflect the curriculum, obviously, but in our work they are the same thing, and so is the Standard. That tripartite reflection of acquisition process in between and back and forth organically from curriculum to instruction to assessment is a fine thing in comprehensible input instruction, but not such a fine thing in traditional instruction, for a million reasons.

    We won’t even mention the word research in this discussion. The rift between what the research says and what traditional teachers do is a chasm.

    I hope your concerned collegues at some point turn the corner on this, and begin treating you with the professional respect and deference that you deserve. You should never be required to align w their silly unit assessments. Some day they might get that. Sorry about the snark but really when are they going to read the research and instruct in a way that reflects the standards? I defend the right of teachers to teach as they want, but not at the expense of children.

  10. Tina’s clarification that the ACTFL standards have nothing to do with specific words or thematic lists made me think that perhaps your average textbook teacher who doesn’t know the foundational SLA really does see this whole enterprise as learning more and more vocab – meaning, demonstrating temporary mastery of said terms on interval tests. They don’t look for or grade for demonstration of contextual comprehension – certainly not of extended chunks of texts – do they? – so Nancy when you come in with the heavy artillery of demonstrating understanding of extended passages, your principal with stand up and take note and wonder what the heck the rest of the WL dept has been doing all these years…aside from handing over lists of words…

  11. Alisa said that traditional teachers believe that teaching a language means that kids can:

    …[demonstrate] temporary mastery of [ certain vocanulary] terms on interval tests….

    That is so accurate!

    Alisa goes on:

    …[teachers] don’t look for or grade for demonstration of contextual comprehension – certainly not of extended chunks of texts … so that [when a CI teacher like Nancy comes in] with the heavy artillery of demonstrating understanding of extended passages, your principal will stand up and take note and wonder what the heck the rest of the WL dept has been doing all these years…aside from handing over lists of words….

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