|A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. - Henry Adams||
|Welcome Resume Standard I: Plans Instruction Standard II: Creates Learning Climates Standard III: Manages Instruction Standard IV: Assesses Results Standard V: Reflects on Teaching Standard VI: Collaborates with Others Standard VII: Professional Development Standard VIII: Demonstrates Content Knowledge Standard IX: Implements Technology||
Standard IV: Assesses and Communicates Learning Results
The most common question I get from all my students is, "What's my grade in here?" Sadly, students are often more worried about the product (the grade) than the process (the learning). Because of this, any good teacher needs to be pretty good at explaining to a student why he received the grade he did. Standard IV provides a place for teachers to prove they can take the mystery out of the grades they give every day.
As evidence that I have mastered the communication of learning results, I choose as my main weapon the rubric. The rubric provides an avenue for objectively grading creativity by providing clear guidelines of what I am looking for in a finished product. Hopefully, you will see that the comments I give to students are fairly specific and supportive. Aside from the many examples of rubrics and their resulting products, I have also included the exam I created in Module III, which is an exemplar of how a test should be developed. When a test is created using this method, you can be sure the results the students do receive actually prove what they are supposed to (that the student has mastered the desired concepts).
Like most areas of teaching, the assessment and communication of learning results is easier if you put a lot of thought into it before actually having to do it. The rubrics represent the thought that goes into answering the questions, "How am I going to score this?" and "Do the rubric scores actually reflect that the student has mastered what I wanted them to?" The rubric provides structure for me as well as the student: It makes sure we both follow the rules.
The exams I create myself have gotten much better as time has went along. The first few exams I created were much too long. In many of my technical classes, the exams were much too technical and written from the perspective of an Information Systems professional. I really had to shift my paradigm to make sure I was testing the students at a level appropriate for a high school class. The good news is that the students are VERY vocal! Their complaints were very valid and implementing many of their suggestions has actually yielded tests that are challenging without being scary!
One of the best things about most of the subjects I teach is that I don't have to give a great deal of multiple choice or essay tests. Instead, I get to use projects to assess students' progress. Projects also scaffold well. Several smaller projects each with its own piece can lead up to a large project that combines everything together. The students end up with a product that is more than a series of answers: It is an authentic work of art they can see and know that they created it out of nothing! The rubrics act as the roadmap that leads them to their masterpiece! (This may sound very touchy-feely, but I have seen the way even the most nonchalant student holds up a finished project to admire it!)
My biggest failure in the communication of results is one that I have heard a lot from many of my MAT counterparts: It takes me much longer than I would like to return graded work. I don't get a planning period and most of my evenings are spent trying to complete work for my education classes. I do most of the grading on the weekends, but sometimes, even that proves to be too much. Efficiency in grading seems to be my best friend. The longer I have taught, the faster I can grade a massive stack of papers. In talking to many veterans, I'm not sure if dealing with the paperwork ever becomes a no-brainer, but I'm trying hard to get there.
In the future, I hope that all my assessments are perfectly aligned with my lesson objectives. I also hope that my assessments cover all the levels of Bloom's taxonomy. (The best thing about using so many project-based assessments is that they lend themselves well to the higher levels of thought.) The most important thing to remember is that if I think of the assessments at the same time I'm planning lessons, the assessments will provide meaningful results since the results will be a reflection of the planned objectives. Like so many times before, mastery of assessment and the communication of results is a process that takes nothing more than time to master.