Assessment in the classroom is something that has always made me nervous when thinking about it from a teacher’s perspective. As a student, I was always writing tests, composing essays, doing quizzes and completing worksheets that seemed dauntless and pointless. It never really bothered me though, because I was good at testing and worksheets and essays. I always did well so they never led me to any stress. Some of my classmates, on the other hand, couldn’t write a test if their lives depended on it. The anxiety of having to sit in a room of complete silence answering God-knows-what kind of questions in a set period of time was enough to cause them to completely bomb every single test they ever wrote simply due to stress, alone. Obviously, they hadn’t not learned anything, they just couldn’t properly showcase their learnings with that style of assessment. I don’t believe that assessment should be about how much students can memorize before a test, I believe that it should be ongoing and in whatever format the students are comfortable with. Even if a student doesn’t struggle with a concept, if they struggle with the medium that they have to show that they learned the concept through, it will appear as though they don’t grasp the concept, itself.
One thing that I do remember one of my high school teachers doing is creating criteria with us and always going through a rubric with us. We always knew what exactly was expected of us and what knowledge our teacher wanted us to come out of the assignments with. I also liked the idea of involving the students in the evaluation process so they can have a say in how much they believe they learned. I think it will help them be more engaged with the assignments, as they know they have to be honest and take ownership over their work.
As far as deadlines go, it has been hard for me to form the opinion that I currently have, but I do believe in second chances. I know just as well as any other student that things come up and sometimes you don’t produce your best work or it’s just not practical to get an assignment in on time. I also believe that when these circumstances do arise that marking harshly or not accepting a late assignment doesn’t reflect on what the student has learned, but how well they deal with school under the pressures of life; and for the most part, that’s not the point. When I was in school, many students didn’t have a second chance. It didn’t matter that a student had to get up at 4 in the morning because it was calving season and then rush to school followed by hours of basketball practice and upon arriving home, had to go back out to the pasture to check cows again and do chores. The lives of students, in many ways, weren’t considered and reflecting on that as a future teacher really opens my eyes to the fact that assessment needs to reflect upon the type of students in the class.
Ongoing assessment is something that I think will be difficult but crucial. I find it hard to imagine trying to assess what 30 individual students know in a class at the same time that I am teaching them all at differentiated levels and being available to all of them ALL at the same time. I’m also worried about creating ways for students to show me what they have learned in a way that we are both comfortable with. I can’t wholeheartedly say that if a student wanted to create a painting for me showing me what they learned about WWII that I could accept it as something to assess their entire learnings on that topic. I could possibly see it being handed in with a spoken or written portion as well, but with that, where is the time to listen to 30 students individually tell you what they learned?! I can definitely say that this is one of the things I am most worried about as a teacher because I only experienced the “old school” type of assessment first hand while I attended school so it’s hard to imagine doing anything but what I already know.