Thursday, April 12, 2012

Assessment Tools...a little bit of background knowledge

Assessments and Evaluations are a requirement in education. So, it is only natural that it be a topic of discussion. As an educator, I am a firm believer in the use of assessments. I use a variety of them that are formal and informal. Some of these include pre and post tests, quizzes, debates, class polls, projects with rubrics, lab activities, lab write-ups, and many more. Personally, I feel it is my job to prove that I've taught my students the necessary science standards as well as other skills that will make my students successful adults. Being that I'm an educator of 21st Century Learners, there are other skills my students will need as they go forward in his/her education. Not only do I teach life science, but I have to teach organization skills, character education, digital citizenship, communication skills, use of technology components, and other 21st Century Skills. As a way to make sure I'm providing my students with purposeful instruction, I have to provide a variety of assessments and evaluations. Being that we teach in the "digital era," there are abundant amount of technology tools available to use for these assessments and evaluations.

The district that I currently work in has certain required assessments that each student will have to take at appropriate times. For example, in 7th grade, my students have to take CoGat and TCAP for math, reading, and writing, however, the 8th grade students are required to take TCAP for science as well. Being that I'm a 7th grade science teacher, and my students are not tested on science every year, I have to provide other forms of assessments. This usually happens through pre and post tests at the beginning and end of each unit. However, the assessments that I provide are created by me, so they may not be considered as reliable since I'm not compared to any other teachers//schools/districts/nations/etc. The way to change this is through common assessments. Currently, myself and the other grade level science teachers are designing a common assessment to use for the next school year.  This will provide a little more accountability and reliability among the entire science department.

Since my district allows some flexibility with site-based accountability, it is up to each school to provide ways to assess and evaluate. Our middle school does have a variety of technology tools in place for assessments. Below is a link to a quick overview of some of these assessments:
Assessments Overview

Most of the technology tools used in the school are geared towards evaluating reading, writing, and math skills. So, as a science teacher, I have to rely on other technology tools for my own assessments. Some of these examples are shown in the following link:
Assessments with Technology (please feel free to add some of your own assessments that use technology to the page)

In addition to the tools that my district/school/me provide for the students within my building, there are a multitude of other resources available to evaluate students and teachers. Throughout my research I found many technology assessment resources that were specific to certain states. For instance, Michigan has the DW (Digital Warehouse) and Washington has the Diagnoser (a science assessment). It seems that every school district has their own database communication tool for grades like Infinite Campus or PowerSchool. Really, the technology tools are endless. The key is to finding the right ones and using them appropriately. In my opinion, assessments are not worth it if there is no purpose to them. Assessments should be used to evaluate students' background knowledge, learned knowledge/skills, and teacher instruction. If the data from the assessments is collected, then is should be evaluated and used. If not, then there was no purpose to the assessments. Technology tools that can be used for assessments and evaluations are wonderful resources. They provide immediate feedback and continuing evaluations of classroom lessons. Technology also provides a different approach to traditional teaching styles because of the amount of continual feedback these type of assessments create.  Once again, technology is a wonderful resource and can be quite effective when used to increase the value of the learning experience...

Evaluation & assessment tools. (n.d.). Retrieved from

(n.d.). How can technology be used with assessment, evaluation, and curriculum redesign?. Thirteen ed online, Retrieved from

Wheaton Shorr, P. (2002). A look at tools for assessment and accountability. Scholastic, Retrieved from

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