If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.

Assessment and Authenticity

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This year, with teaching only Language Arts, I am required to have grades for spelling, reading, word study skills, and grammar/writing. Using the Daily 5, my students work independently on each of these subject areas.  I teach mini-lessons daily and conference with students daily on either reading or writing skills.  I find myself questioning how I have  should be evaluating their work.

I know parents want to know how their children did on a test.  It is much easier to test vocabulary and spelling skills with a test.  Again, I am not sure “testing” is the best method for the Daily 5.  I prefer to use student-made goals, daily progress made, and proper usage of these skills shown in their work, to assess the students.  For some reason, there is such a large focus on “grades” which makes it difficult.  I have students making higher grades this nine weeks than they probably should, based on a spelling test grade, or a vocabulary test, or even an AR test.  But then I notice in their work that they are still misspelling the words they were just tested on.  Sometimes I notice that they are using the vocabulary words in the wrong context. What is truly the best way to assess these skills authentically?

One teacher at my school is doing “Student Led Conferences”, and I would love to somehow incorporate an assessment tool for grades that would be based on each student’s goals and whether or not they were able to achieve their goals versus test scores. I want their work to be authentic and NOT based solely on a “test” that they studied for and passed.  With the Daily 5, each child reads their own books based on his/her appropriate level and interests.  Therefore, in order for me to check for comprehension, I am relying solely on the AR (Accelerated Reader) tests.  Is this the best form of assessment?  These are all questions that I am constantly asking myself, and also looking for other options.  I would love any feedback or suggestions on different methods of how you assess your students.


One thought on “Assessment and Authenticity

  1. There re lots of ways to assess comprehension. In a one to one conference you can ask students questions. You can assign open questions such as “explain how the problem was solved in the text and justify your response.” Or “do you agree with the choices the character made in the story?” Or tell me about the beginning, middle and ending of the story.” These questions can apply to most narratives and help you find out if they understand what they are reading. There are a lot of examples of comprehension questions and texts on our provincial testing site at http://www.eqao.com
    Here is a direct link to a grade 3 booklet of texts and questions. The questions could be adapted to other texts very easily. http://www.eqao.com/pdf_E/08/3e_StudentBooklet_ONLT_0608.pdf
    These might guide you in creating your own check Ina for your students.

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