It occurs to me that I’m not a very good teacher if I don’t give you the chance to reflect on your assessment knowledge. I’m going to provide you with an assessment of your assessment beliefs. Don’t worry. It’s formative. I will not be collecting your responses for marks. I just want you to reflect. There are no wrong answers here (but there are some that are more right than others). Your answers will reveal some of your beliefs about assessment.
Three English 20-1 teachers at a school get together and create common assessments. They decide that they can accurately assess their curriculum using 8 summative assessments. Their assessments will be:
- 4 Short Responses to Texts and Media – 250 words or less (20%)
- 2 Essays – 1500 words (20%)
- Midterm Exam (20%)
- Final Exam (40%)
They agree that they will attempt to get all their students to write these 8 assessments.
In a strange coincidence, possible only in a scenario like this, there is one student in each class who misses the same 3 assessments, and gets exactly 80% on the five completed ones.
The teachers give each student a printout of their grade two weeks before the final exam. What the students see is in the chart below.
Teacher A tells Student A that he will replace the zeros with whatever the student gets, should the student choose to do any of the missing assessments. The student knows he will do well on the final, so the student chooses to do nothing additional. Student A writes the final (gets 80% on it), keeps the zeros, and passes the class with an average of 52%.
Teacher B tells Student B that he can’t give her a mark. He is missing three pieces of critical evidence. Student B finds the missing Response #3 in her binder and submits it. She comes in three days in a row at lunch to work on her missing essay, spends all weekend on it, and then turns it in. She writes the midterm exam in her vice principal’s office one day after school, under his supervision. She gets 80% on all three things, and writes the final (also 80%) and comes out of the class with a final grade of 80%.
Teacher C tells Student C that the missing assessments aren’t counted in the average. They are being omitted. The teacher tells Student C that she would like him to do those three assessments. He doesn’t. He writes the final exam (and gets 80%). The teacher omits the three missing assessments, and the student comes out of the class with a grade of 80%.
Questions for Reflection
- Which student do you think was assessed most accurately? Which student’s grade is least accurate? Is there a better way than these three methods to ensure accuracy? Explain.
- Which student do you think learned the most about the real world? Which student do you think learned the least about the real world? Is there a better way these three teachers could have prepared their students for the real world? Explain.
- Which teacher’s practice strikes you as most fair? Which teacher’s practice strikes you as least fair? Do you think there is a fairer way of assessing than these three teachers did? Explain.
- Which teacher’s class would you want your child in? Which teacher’s class would you not want your child in? Explain.