This week, I took time to search commonly used forms of assessment. I decided to just google the words: "commonly used forms of assessments." My google search came up with 123 million listings, and the first 100 links were mostly advertising for formative assessments. Of course there were a few about authentic assessments here and there, but the majority seemed to think that formative assessments are the most important.
As an educator of 21st Century Learners, I personally like to use multiple forms of assessments: authentic, formative, and recently I've added summative. I find authentic assessments to provide a quick check on my students' understanding and doesn't take a lot of time. These type of assessments are usually in warm up questions at the beginning of each class, review games, debates, and some Q & A sessions during lab observations. As for formative assessments, I usually give my students some type of written test or project at the end of each unit. Usually my tests are also given as a pre assessment at the beginning of the unit, so I can track my students' growth. Now, our department is working to create common assessments.
Due to the changes to the science standards and the Colorado State Assessment Program (CSAP) and Senate Bill 191, my principal is wanting each department to start the process of creating common assessments. Since Senate Bill 191 is evaluating the teachers based on student growth, the best way to accomplish this is with common assessments. However, this has created somewhat of a challenge for the science world. When it comes to science, many of the topics can be taught a multitude of ways based on the experience and risk a science teacher has with the topic. So, as a department, we have come to a way to make it work for everyone. Each grade level will create a series of 100 standard based questions and they will be put into a test bank. All 100 questions must be used (50 each semester), but the teacher may decide which questions to use and when. They must also use the same questions as their pre assessment and post assessment as a way to show their students' growth. By creating this type of pool of tests to use as summative assessment will allow the with some flexibility to their teaching style and lesson plan frameworks.
Along with the types of assessments, I have started to use technology to aide with these assessments. I've become a huge fan of some rubric creator websites such as Rubistar and quiz creator websites such as Quizlet and Quizstar. As an fun authentic assessment, I've used PollEveryWhere.com to create warm up questions for my students and they text in their answers. Usually technology has been very effective for me. I find the online quizzes to be easier for my students because they are self paced and the students take them when they feel ready. Not to mention the quizzes are scored and the grade is sent to me, which saves me a great deal of time on grading! Using tools like PollEverywhere keeps my students actively engaged, especially since they get to use their cell phones in class. These type of technological resources provide immediate feedback and allow my students to use things like cell phones in a positive "educated" way.
When it comes to tracking student growth, I use one subscription system provided by the school district. Our district prefers to use Infinite Campus. This system allows me to communicate grades with students and parents as well as see their IEP's ILP's, ALP's, and previous CSAP's scores. Our Language Arts and Math teachers also use a summative assessment known as Scantron. This is an online program that allows them to show students' growth in reading, writing, and math concepts. However, this particular program is extremely expensive, so the science teachers rely on the newly designed science common assessments that were mentioned above and Infinite Campus.
Through this week's investigation, I have had the opportunity to evaluate the type of assessments that I give my students. One thing that I've never used is a "game" system to track my students' growth. However, through my research, I've found a great website, Quia. I've used this website to create review games for the students to use to study for upcoming tests. So, I wonder if I could use those as a way to track my students' growth as well.....