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Brainy Apples: ELA Summer Book Club- Chapter 9: Assessment
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ELA Summer Book Club- Chapter 9: Assessment

I'm bbbbbaaaaacccckkkkkk! :) Ready for some talk about assessment? I was very excited to get Chapter 9: Assessment and the Common Core Standards. I mean, who wouldn't be? While I did enjoy reading this chapter, I did feel as though it would have been very helpful to have had concrete examples of the types of assessment the authors felt would be appropriate or that fit all their requirements. I am like most of you. I want to learn, but I also want examples! Oh, well. You get what you get and you don't pitch a fit, right? ;) OK, let's get started, shall we?

What I enjoyed most about this chapter is that it solidified what I have always felt about assessment: it should be meaningful, frequent, diagnostic for specific skills, shared and discussed with students, and tied across the content areas (ahem...cough..cough...Authentic Performance Assessments!)

The authors state that a quality reading Common Core reading assessment must:
1. Reflect a student's most current and comprehensive understanding of reading.
2. Show a student's progression in daily learning and end of the quarter/year goals.
3. Combine formative and summative assessments.
4. Report, support, and teach in relation to student learning.
5. Focus on a student's metacognition and feelings towards reading.
6. Be developed with a clear understanding of what the CCSS says.
7. Help all students meet the rigorous requirements of the CCSS including our struggling readers.

Whew! That was A LOT. Like last time, I am not going to go into all the research the authors use to support their view. Instead I will briefly explain what the authors mean by each of the above.

Reflect a student's most current and comprehensive understanding of reading:
Basically, our assessments should not simply test whether a student comprehends a text. Rather, our assessments should assess to see if our students can apply, analyze, critique, or synthesize across multiple texts what they have read. We need to make sure our assessments are assessing what the CCSS are requiring of students, and the assessment results yield where our students are in relation to mastering these standards.

Show a student's progression in daily learning and end of the quarter/year goals:
We need to make sure our assessments not only assess the year-end goals, but also the smaller, more daily goals we set for our students. Meaning that we will have to assess our students' basic skills that may not be included in the standards because these skills are prerequisites that are critical to a student mastering the grade level standards. Assessments should describe students in relation to these prerequisite skills and show student progression to mastering the CCSS skills.

Combine formative and summative assessments:
Formative assessments should be used to guide teaching, and summative assessments should be used to see if a student has mastered standards. In other words, formative assessments lend themselves to teaching moments and informing teachers in how to scaffold lessons/activities so all of our students can master the standard. Obviously, teachers need both of these types of assessments. Formatives help us know what/how to teach our students. Summatives help us know if our students have mastered the standards. Typically, students who struggle may need to have more formative assessments so the teacher can gauge whether or not the instruction is helping a student progress towards mastery of the standard or, if not, instruction needs to be altered. 

Report, support, and teach in relation to student learning:
This area covers letting students in on the secrets of assessment. Why? Because if a student understands how and why he/she is being assessed as well as how to interpret the results, students will begin to be able to set goals, discuss his/her progress (or lack thereof if needed), find and fix problems in his/her learning, and eventually (every teacher's dream): gain independence for assessing their own reading. Which for those of you who read my post on Chapter 7, you will know that this student mindfulness (aka metacognition) would be my ideal runner-up super power, falling shortly behind teleportation. We all know that a student needs to be able to self-monitor and assess him/herself in order to become a master reader, but how do we get them to do this? Ah, one of life's biggest mysteries. This is especially where I wished there had been an example assessment or vignette included. A few questions were included, though, that students could be asked to answer regularly:
~Why am I reading?
~Does this make sense?
~Is there a problem?
~What is the problem?
~Can I fix it?
~Can I get back on track?

Focus on a student's metacognition and feelings towards reading:
Metacognition underlies a student's success with reading increasingly complex texts. I found this point to be very similar to the above. This section, however, also includes a student's motivation, engagement, and feelings towards reading (the latter would be self-efficacy). A student must believe he/she can be successful. The authors state that assessments should track a student's metacognition and self-efficacy.

Be developed with a clear understanding of what the CCSS says:
Teachers must be experts on the curriculum, which will be difficult because it is new for just about everyone. Students must be accustomed to taking these types of performance assessments. Student acclimation to these types of assessment can be enhanced by a vertical alignment of assessments grade level to grade level. If assessment programs are aligned across grade levels and across school subjects (cough...cough....Authentic Performance Tasks that are cross-curricular), students will become more successful in completing these assessments. 

Help all students meet the rigorous requirements of the CCSS including our struggling readers:
Ah, and here seems to be the golden question we all ask, "I have students who could not meet our old standards. How are they going to meet these new ones that have been bumped up a grade level or more?" The authors say that through the use of the correct types of assessments, we will be able to track our students progression and diagnose weaknesses so we can adjust our instruction. MUCH easier said than done!

I know I have dropped subtle hints that I love Authentic Performance Tasks, so here is a blog post I did earlier this year for All Things Upper Elementary where I am a collaborator. I LOVE everything about them. I won't go off on a tangent because I want to maintain the purpose of this post, but feel free to check it out and let me know if you have used them in the past, if you think you might give them a try, and what you think below. I will leave a question below pertaining to Authentic Performance tasks :)

So, as you can see, this chapter had some good info, but I was really missing the vignettes or examples of what the authors feel are matched assessment to the CCSS. As with implementing the Common Core, teacher collaboration is going to be instrumental in creating quality assessments that accurately assess our students.

Please read over the questions below and feel free to join in on the discussion even if you haven't been reading along with us!

And in case you missed the previous chapters, here they are:
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8

And next Monday, August 12, be sure to visit Jen at Out of This World Literacy as she concludes our book study!

Thanks for reading!
**Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)
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  1. How do you use assessment in your classroom to determine your students' strength/weaknesses?

  2. How do you include your students in the assessment process?

  3. How does your school vertically align assessments?

  4. What are your thoughts on Authentic Performance Tasks? Do you use them? Do you love them? Do you hate them? Anything goes here!