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Standard 5 Meta Reflection: Assessment December 1, 2012

Introduction: Meta Reflection and Assessment Philosophy

My perspective and philosophy of classroom assessment has transformed in many ways throughout my eleven years as an educator. Much of this transformation has occurred just within the past two and one half months as I process the information I have learned in the Standards Based Assessment graduate course at Seattle Pacific University. Where previously I had considered assessment mainly as an endpoint to a unit or an academic year, I now understand that assessment is so much more than that. Effective assessment practices are critical to the design of differentiated and ongoing instruction (formative assessment) as well as to the communication to others of student achievement at a particular point in time (summative assessment). In other words, assessment that is formative is assessment  for student learning and assessment that is summative is assessment of student learning (Chappuis, Stiggins, Chappuis, and Arter, 2012).

Two of the most profound concepts I have learned throughout this course are connecting assessments directly to learning targets and utilizing assessment methods that best support these targets. Understanding the type of the target is imperative to ensuring that the assessment will accurately measure the achievement of that target. Five types of targets are knowledge, reasoning, skill, product and disposition targets (Chappuis et al., 2012).  Knowledge targets, which relate to the factual information that support each content area, and reasoning targets, which relate to the thought processes required to make sense of and apply new information, embody most of the learning targets in place at the elementary level. It is on these types of targets that most of my assessment portfolio is centered.

Chappuis et al. (2012) describe the best matches when deciding which assessment method to use with the different types of learning targets. As I craft assessments for kindergarten writing learning targets I am inclined to use both personal communication and performance assessment methods because these match up well with knowledge and reasoning targets. Personal communication works especially well with formative assessments in writing due to the fact that, while more time consuming, it lends itself well to differentiation amongst different learning styles as well as informs educators in real time so that adjustments can be made in instruction (Chappuis et al, 2012, p. 96). Performance assessment is described as a partial match for knowledge and reasoning targets due to the fact that if a student is not successful in this type of assessment, it might be problematic to determine the cause of the difficulty. It is for this reason that I often combine personal communication assessment with performance assessment. Personal communication allows me to better understand a young learner’s thought processes along the way.

Both Chappuis et al. (2012) and O’Connor (2009) stress that the communication of assessment data to all invested parties (students, parents, community) is a critical component of effective assessment. While I have always agreed that this is true, I have not always been aware of the extent to which the students themselves play a role in this communication. O’Connor (2009, p. 231) illustrates this point clearly with a continuum that reflects level of student involvement during scheduled formal conferences. Student involvement ranges from the student is not present at all to the student leads the conference him/herself. Educators are encouraged to move towards such student-led conferences.

Chappuis et al. (2012, p. 32) describes effective practices that support student self-assessment and goal setting as well as facilitate two way communication between students, teachers, and parents. Students can identify their own strengths and weaknesses prior to teacher feedback, utilize a response log that states what was learned and what questions they still have, select pieces for a portfolio, offer feedback to fellow students, and set goals for future learning. I have included several of these recommendations in my portfolio artifacts. These practices also help students answer the “Where am I now?” question that is part of Chappuis et al.’s Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning (2012, p. 28).

The artifacts included in my Assessment Portfolio are designed to provide data that illustrates student progress towards specific writing learning goals in kindergarten. Several artifacts will demonstrate how this data is analyzed by the teacher, grade level team, and the students themselves, as well as reflect reporting systems that have been developed to track and report student achievement.

In my experience, technology has served as both a blessing and a source of frustration to my understanding of sound assessment practices. Currently, I use our district online grading system to record student grades for the report card. This system has provided consistency across the district in regards to summative reporting at the end of the semester. It has also provided an opportunity for some data entry to be pre-populated at the district level, thus reducing teacher work load. However, at first use this system seemed to be inconsistent with what I have learned in this class regarding linking assessments and grades directly to learning targets. Content areas on this system are graded according to “strands” such as Content, Organization, and Spelling for writing; and Number and Operations, Algebra, and Geometry for math. It seemed difficult if not impossible to record and communicate at the standards level using this system. However, after I was able to reflect on Chappuis et al.’s practice of deconstructing complex content standards (2012, pp. 60-66), I am better able to connect the strands listed in our online grade book with the content standards that give direction to our classroom instruction. The deconstructing process that they recommend uncovers and unpacks the standards and reveals common targets and categories of targets that the online system and the standards share.

The following section includes a compilation of assessment artifacts that reflect my growing understanding of assessment practices. Excellence in the craft of assessing students for learning is an ongoing endeavor and will continue to be a high priority for me as I plan for and engage in professional development and teacher leadership opportunities.

Artifacts and Analysis of Multi Assessment Approaches

     For the purposes of this portfolio, I will focus on the assessment and record keeping of learning targets that inform the writing curriculum in kindergarten. For my first artifact I am presenting a Writing Goals Checklist that would include student names and writing learning targets. This process will allow me to use a date and check off procedure to track when students have mastered a target. Likewise, I will be informed of students who have difficulty in one or more targets and be able to offer supportive instruction.

In September, students, parents and families work together to set goals in writing during our fall Goal Setting Conferences. After a couple weeks of exploring the craft of conveying a message through drawing and writing, students are guided to select one or more goals listed on a goal sheet that support writing learning targets. Through this activity students are introduced to the task of self-evaluation and goal setting as well as become more familiar with writing expectations and learning targets presented in kid friendly language.

In order to provide evidence of multiple assessment approaches, I am including the below artifacts along with a description of each as to the assessment context, the targets it addresses, an analysis of student achievement, a reference as to how this piece is supported by research and current professional literature, possible next steps for student instruction, and reflections on assessment revision (if applicable).

District Summative Writing Assessment (student sample)

Assessment Method: Performance Assessment

Assessment Context:

This District Summative Writing Assessment is a narrative writing activity.  Students are to write to the prompt “Write about Kindergarten. Tell about something fun or special you have done at school.” This assessment is given in the fall.

Resources: District CDSA and script, 45 minutes instruction time

Assessment Rubric: Writing Summative Assessment Rubric

Targets Addressed:  # 1-8 on Writing Goals Checklist

Analysis of Student Achievement:

As my teammates and I discussed the scoring of this kindergarten writing sample,  it first appeared that the student, while seeming to have a specific message to convey, did not have a clear idea as to how to organize his writing. There was no consistency in his retell and he did not seem to understand where on the paper the text of his story should go. (The shaded out text on the lines and in his illustration was where he put his name.) After further discussion, we came to the conclusion that the student DID place text in several speech bubbles which indicates a certain understanding of text versus pictures in his writing. Therefore his organization score will be a 2.

Literature Support:

Collaborating within my professional learning community in the scoring of our district writing assessments addresses Key to Quality Assessment #4: Effective Communication. (Chappuis et al, 2012, p. 8)

Next Instructional Steps:

Student will receive instructional support in including text in a story and letter-sound correspondence.

Assessment Revision/Reflection:

In order to preserve the integrity and consistency of district assessments, this assessment itself will not be revised. I will, however, incorporate professional collaboration in the scoring process on a more regular basis.

Competence Portfolio (student sample)

Assessment Method:  Portfolio

Assessment Context:

This assessment portfolio would provide summative evidence of mastery of the identified targets. This assessment method accommodates learners of all levels in that it recognizes that students will reach learning targets at different times of the year. To promote student investment in his/her own progress, students will take part in identifying which writing pieces best represent evidence of the target.

Resources:

Classroom instruction of volume 1 of Luch Calkins’ Units of Study (2003)

Student writing samples reflecting lessons from volume 1 of  Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study (2003)

Targets Addressed:  # 9 and# 15 on Writing Goals Checklist

Analysis of Student Achievement:

In order to consider a student’s writing as having a “developed topic”, our team decided that he/she must include 2 out of the 5 following “wh” questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why. Further, I decided that if I found at least 8 pieces that reflected competence of the two targets then we could consider these goals achieved and they could be checked off on the Writing Goals Checklist. It would be unlikely that 8 demonstrations of these writing behaviors would constitute “chance” rather than mastery. The writing samples are numbered in the bottom right hand corner in order of date, earliest to most recent.

Student A consistently demonstrates the use of beginning and ending sounds. I have therefore checked off the two learning targets on the Writing Goals Checklist.

Literature Support:

Competence portfolios demonstrate evidence of acceptable or exemplary achievement of one or more learning targets.  In order to be certain that enough samples are collected to rule out “chance” rather than mastery, an adequate number of samples needs to be collected (Chappuis et al., 2012, p. 367).   I determined that a sample of at least 8 pieces showing mastery of the above two targets would demonstrate enough evidence to check these targets off on the Writing Goals Checklist.

Next Instructional Steps:

This student is an above standard writer and has achieved many of the writing goals for kindergarten. I will work with him on adding details to his picture as well as to his writing. He will be encouraged to consider the reader and to provide enough details to “make a mind movie”.

Assessment Revision/Reflection:

As I reflect on this assessment type, I am aware that these same ten pieces of writing could actually serve as a competence portfolio for several other learning goals. I imagine that such a portfolio could have a checklist in the front that designates which targets are covered in this collection.

Missing Puppy Posters (Links to student samples are found below in “Student Sample Scores” section)

Assessment Method:  Performance Assessment

Assessment Rubric: Puppy Poster Performance Assessment Rubric

Assessment Context/Description:

I told students that a very special member of our classroom, our stuffed dog “Pip”, is missing and I asked them what we could do to get help in finding him.  The students were guided to come up with the idea of making posters to put around the school to see if anyone has seen him. We searched online for samples of other posters for missing items and determined that our posters needed a picture, words that described what our problem was, a description of what the missing puppy looks like, and who is looking for him. Students were given several different paper choices, one that had space for words above and below the picture, one that had space for words above the picture only, and another that had space for words below the picture. They were then sent on their way to create their posters.

Resources: Classroom instruction on lessons 1-10 in Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study (2003)

Targets Addressed:  # 6 and# 10 on Writing Goals Checklist

Analysis of Student Achievement:

In order to consider a student’s writing as having a “developed topic”, our team decided that he/she must include 2 out of the 5 following “wh” questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why. Further, I decided that if I found at least 8 pieces that reflected competence of the two targets then we could consider these goals achieved and they could be checked off on the Writing Goals Checklist. It would be unlikely that 8 demonstrations of these writing behaviors would constitute “chance” rather than mastery. The writing samples are numbered in the bottom right hand corner in order of date, earliest to most recent.

Student A consistently demonstrates the use of beginning and ending sounds. I have therefore checked off learning targets #6 and #10.

Literature Support:

Chappuis, et al. (2012, pp. 211 – 218) describe three critical dimensions pertaining to a well-constructed performance assessment.  These dimensions are task content, task structure, and sampling. As I considered task content I defined the learning targets (listed above) that would be measured through this assessment. I also wanted to allow for authenticity. Students were motivated to write and create these posters in order to locate our beloved Pip. Their writing had a specific purpose. Additionally, I incorporated student choice as they decided which layout they wanted to use for their poster.

This performance assessment addressed task structure (Chappuis, et al., 2012, pp. 213-216) as well. Students were aware of what they needed to accomplish – that is to provide other members of the school enough information to enable them to help find Pip the Dog. The timeline for completion was reasonable and accounted for the wide range of abilities in the class. Students who finished early knew to go to a quiet reading activity. Additional time was given later in the day in order to accommodate students who needed more time.

This writing assessment was formative and is intended to give information that will guide further instruction. Adequate sampling (Chappuis, et al., 2012, pp. 216 – 218) is accounted for as it allows students to demonstrate evidence that covers the breadth of the two learning targets. This assessment lends itself well to display sound-letter correspondence as well as adherence to a specific purpose.

Student Sample Scores and Next Instructional Steps:

Student #1

  • Scored a 3 for Writes for a specific purpose  because she included 3 of the poster components: a picture, a statement of the problem (“Pip is lost”), and who is looking for him (Miss Gale’s class).
  • Scored a 4 for Demonstrates sound-letter correspondence – Beginning, ending and middle sounds are represented and it can be easily read by the teacher.

Next instructional steps: Explore other purposes for writing such as “how to”.

Student #2

  • Scored a 2 for Writes for a specific purpose  because two of the poster components are included: a picture and a statement of the problem (“Pip is lost”).
  • Scored a 2 for Demonstrates sound-letter correspondence because much support was needed to get “Pip is lost.” on his paper.  Also, he happily admitted that he copied his neighbor for the bottom (illegible) portion of the text and didn’t know what it said.

Next instructional steps – Add details to picture/words, understand and use beginning and ending sounds.

Student #3

  • Scored a 4 for Writes for a specific purpose  because he included all four poster components and added one of his own, the date the dog was missing.
  • Scored a 4 for Demonstrates sound-letter correspondence.

Next instructional steps: Compare and contrast various purposes for writing.

Assessment Revision/Reflection:

I was pleased with the information that this assessment offered as it allows me to plan instruction accordingly. To improve on this assessment for next time I will clearly tell the students the criteria, in student friendly language, which I will be using to assign a score to their writing. I plan to create a related activity that incorporates student self-assessment.

Writing Conference Notes (teacher designed)

Assessment Method:  Personal Communication

Assessment Context/Description:

I conduct this formative assessment during writing conferences as part of Writing Workshop. On one side of the sheet I record writing behaviors that are already evident. In the right column I make notes regarding what I have taught the student during the conference. In order to track and keep records of who is to receive a conference and when, I schedule conferences on a Writing Conference Schedule.

Targets Addressed:  # 1 – 20 on Writing Goals Checklist

Resources:

Instruction and practice with independent writing, Carl Anderson’s (2005) Conference Notes template

Analysis of Student Achievement/ Next Instructional Steps:

On the dates specified on the conference notes I saw evidence that this student likes to be organized (disposition target), uses spaces consistently, and capitalizes the pronoun “I” (learning target #19). I will support this student in using lower case and capitalization appropriately, the planning process of writing (to include the purpose of a quick sketch), the use of blends and digraphs, and word deconstruction (phonemic awareness).

Literature Support:

This form of personal communication allows me to gain better insight into the student’s strengths and misconceptions. It also allows the student to feel “heard” and take more ownership in the direction of his/her learning. I am better able to tailor the lesson to the student’s particular needs. (Chappuis, et al. 2012, pp. 279 – 280)

Assessment Revision/Reflection:

I would like to link my writing conferences more specifically to learning targets. I will add a section to the conference sheet that indicates which learning target is being addressed. I also think that this would be a good opportunity to incorporate student self-evaluation. I will add smiley, straight, and frown faces for students to indicate where the student believes he/she is in regards to the target.

Resources

Anderson, C. (2005). Assessing writers. Portsmouth, NH: Heineman.

Calkins, L., (2003). Units of study (Vols. 1-7). Portsmouth, NH: Heineman.

Chappuis, J., Stiggins, R., Chappuis, S. & Arter, J. (2012) Classroom assessment: Every student a learner. Classroom assessment for student learning: Doing it right-Using it well (pp. 1-18). Boston, MA: Pearson.

O’Connor (2009). How to grade for learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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