AHEAD OF THE CLASS

Formative Assessment and Standards-Based Grading

 "The function of feedback is to help teachers and students make adjustments that will improve students' achievement of intended curricular aims"
(Popham, 2008, p.5)

 

 

Purpose of Assessment

  • Formative assessment is a process, not any particular test. 
  • It is not used just by teachers but by both teachers and students. 
  • Formative assessment takes place during instruction. 
  • It provides assessment-based feedback to teachers and students. 

According to Robert Marzano (Classroom Strategies That Work), there are three types of assessments a teacher can use in the classroom: obtrusive assessments, unobtrusive assessments, and student-generated assessments.  Each can and should be used in a comprehensive system of formative assessment.

Obtrusive Assessments

Obtrusive assessments interrupt the normal flow of activity in the classroom.  Instruction does not occur during these types of assessments.  Instead, instruction stops while students "take the assessment" (consequently the term obtrusive).

Obtrusive assessments can take many forms.

  • paper/pencil test
  • quiz to assess students' understanding of concepts
  • short answer test to assess comprehension of a reading passage
  • perform a dance step
  • execute a free throw
  • design and explain a model
  • oral presentation

Examples of Obtrusive Asessments in Various Subject Areas

Language Arts: To assess the students' ability to write a persuasive paper, the teacher assigns students the task of identifying a claim about a topic of their choice and supporting that claim with appropriate facts and qualifiers.  Students begin the task in class and turn it in the next day.

Mathematics: To assess the students' ability to make reasonable estimations of weight, students are given four objects each.  They must consider the weight of each object and write down estimations they consider to be reasonable using the units of measure studied in class.  They must also write brief justifications for their answers.  At the end of class, the students turn in their assessments.

Science: To assess the students' understanding of the systems of the human body, the teacher provides them with a blank outline of a human body.  The teacher asks students to graphically locate the heart, lungs, liver, and stomach.  Students are also asked to write down the system associated with each organ and provide brief explanations of that system's major purpose.

Social Studies: To assess the students' knowledge of United States geography, the teacher provides a blank map of the country.  Students must write in the names of as many states as they can in the time allotted. 

Physical Education: To assess the students' ability to hit a golf ball, the teacher asks each student to demonstrate a golf swing using a driver.  After hitting the ball, each student is asked to evaluate his or her own swing and name one thing he or she could have done to make it better.  After analyzing the swing, the studnt is asked to demonstrate again, this time thinking in advance about what he or she needs to improve on.

Art: To assess the students' ability to draw using perspective, the teacher presents them with three-dimensional objects such as cylinders, prisms, and cubes.  They are asked to choose one object and use the relevant elements of perspective to draw it as realistically as possible within the allotted time.

Unobtrusive Assessments

Unobtrusive assessments do not interrupt the flow of instruction and studnts might not even be aware that they are being assessed during an unobtrusive assessment.

  • most easily applied to content tht is procedural
  • content that involves learning a skill, strategy, or process.
  • provides teacher with information about the student's current status regarding a specific skill, strategy, or process
  • provides teacher with information if a particular student is not following the correct procedure

Examples of Unobtrusive Asessments in Various Subject Areas

Language Arts: A teacher observes a student writing a poem of his or her own design.  The teacher considers this an unobtrusive assessment of the student's ability to write this type of poem. 

Mathematics: A teacher observes a student working division problem from a homework assignment on the board.  The student works through the problem correctly, and the teacher considers this an unobtrusive assessment of the student's ability to perform the process of division. 

Science: A teacher observes a student performing the steps of a scientific procedure and taking notes in a lab book .The teacher considers this an unobtrusive assessment of the student's ability to perform and document a scientific experiment. 

Social Studies: A teacher observes a student identifying on a map of the city where his or her house is located.  The teacher considers this an unobtrusive assessment of the student's ability to read a map. 

Physical Education: A teacher observes a student stopping a soccer ball with his or her feet and then kicking it to a teammate during a game played in class.  The teacher considers this an unobtrusive assessment of the student's ability to stop a ball and kick it with accuracy. 

Art: A teacher observes a student acting a part in a role-playing exercise and considers this this an unobtrusive assessment of the student's ability to create and maintain a character. 

Student-Generated Assessments

Student-generated assessments are probably the most underutilized form of classroom assessment.  As the name implies, a defining feature of student-generated assessments is that students generate ideas about the manner in which they will demonstrte their current status on a given topic.  To do so, they might use any of the types of obtrusive assessments.  For example, one student might say that she will provide an oral answer to any of the twenty questions in the back of chapter 5 science textbook to demonstrte her knowledge of the topic of habitats.  Another student might propose that he design and explain a model of the cell membrane to demonstrate his knowledge of the topic.

Examples of Student-Generated Asessments in Various Subject Areas

Language Arts: To demonstrate her understanding of a book read in class, a fifth-grade student proposes that she write a paper describing the devents of the story and how one event caused another, leading to the story's ultimate resolution.

Mathematics: To demonstrate his understanding of geometric angles, a fourth-grade student proposes that he measure and draw acute, obtuse, and right angles as well as complementary and supplementary angles in the presence of the teacher.

Science: To show that she understands the solar system, an eighth-grade student proposes that she draw a diagram of the solar system and write a paper describing the major features of each different planet and its relationship to the other planets in the system.

Social Studies: To demonstrate his understanding of the causes of World War II, an eighth-grade student proposes that he write a paper on how the war might have been avoided if the Treaty of Versailles had not been so punitive to Germany.

Physical Education: To show that she can do a forward and a backward roll, a kindergarten student offers to demonstrate both movements for the teacher.

Art: To show his skill at shading, a sixth-grade student offers to draw and shade an object in his house and bring the drawing to class.

References

Formative Assessment and Standards-Based Grading Strategies retrieved   
     from:
www.marzanoresearch.com 

Marzano, R,J., Pickering, D., & Pollack, J. (2001). Classroom instruction that
     works
. Alexandria,  VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum
     Development. 

Marzano, R. J. (2009). Formative assessment & standards-based grading: Classroom
     strategies that work.
 
     Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.
 

Volusia Proficiency Model Retrieved from:
     http://blackboard.volusia.k12.fl.us/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?
     tab_tab_group_id=_16_1
 Volusia County Schools, 2009.