Back to school (2)

Get 'back to school' ready with our guest blogger Anne Davies (Step Two of Five)

Step Two: planning to evaluate

First of all, if you can't begin with the end in mind, you can end up scrambling to get the evidence you need to make an informed professional judgement. In Leading the Way to Assessment for Learning, Sandra Herbst and I outline the 12 steps needed in order that:
  • Teachers are prepared to evaluate well.
  • Leaders are prepared to support teachers, and,
  • Leaders know how to better engage in the evaluation process themselves.
Part of the process I will highlight in this post has to do with looking at the learning destination and thinking about what needs to be VALUED. 

Consider a Science example from a primary classroom. This teacher need to keep track of what students create, what they do, and what they say in relation to the learning destination. 

What would be evidence that students can:
-make observations,
-ask questions about the world around them, and,
-collect data about living and non-living things?

And the list continues. Each statement is a question that leads to what needs to be valued and helps teachers consider what could be possible evidence.

Large-scale assessments would give a series of paper and pencil or online tasks. In Classroom Assessment we collect evidence in relation to the learning destination from multiple sources over time to ensure our findings are reliable and valid. This is a process called TRIANGULATION. It is essential when it comes to classroom assessment. (To read more go to Making Classroom Assessment Work - Chapter 5).

When we only value PRODUCTS (tests, quizzes, culminating assignments), we can put ourselves at professional risk because the learning outcomes/standards also include PROCESS, and require students to ARTICULATE their learning to others.

As you get ready for the new school year, consider two questions:

1. What evidence of learning will students create as they engage in the rich learning tasks in relation to the learning outcomes/standards?
2. What evidence of learning will you as the teacher collect and track so you have the evidence you need in relation to the learning destination for the first reporting period?

This is part of the process participants in our May workshops in NZ will engage in. We will be working with great groups - feel free to register with Learning Network NZ (details below) so you can join Sandra and me.

Consider this example from a high school Spanish class. Notice the teacher has listed the possible evidence of learning. Notice the teacher is deliberately collecting products, observations, and records of conversations (journals, notes, and so on) so the evidence is from multiple sources over time.

As you think about this example and the earlier Science example, consider these focus questions:
1. What evidence will students be creating? 
2. What evidence could the teacher choose to track and collect?
3. Is the teacher preparing to evaluate what is valued as defined by the outcomes/standards?

Lastly, before you finalize your evaluation plans, you need to know the 'rules and regulations' around reporting so you are ready to use the symbols required by your report card. Contact the principal or the school district office to find out about the current policies, rules, and regulations. Don't operate on the basis of rumour. Report cards are legal documents and they need to be done correctly. Don't place yourself at professional risk.

Step Three will be posted tomorrow.
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Canadian-based author, consultant, and researcher, Anne Davies, Ph.D., applies her expert knowledge of developing quality classroom assessment practices toward her mission to 'increase the possibility of learning for all our students'. If you like what she has to say she's in NZ in May 2013 for a series of assessment workshops. For more info and online bookings click here.

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