Assessment and BEERS (chapter 17)

Chapter 17 in Beers entitled “Thinking Through Assessment” was a chapter that presented multiple perspectives for answering a teacher’s question regarding her personal assessments for her students and how to align those with the NCLB standards. Further, the main issue of assessment relates to the paper I am writing for 505, so I found it particularly intriguing.


I appreciated Devon’s response on page 260, when he writes that “Students who are able to comprehend on the literal, inferential and critical levels will probably be able to figure out what the test is asking” (BEERS, 260). He elaborates on how students who can read, write, apply knowledge, and those who have other literacies, don’t need explicit test prep, because the strategies they have developed while engaging in these activities, make them “prepared for any kind of test” (260). Thus, Devon agrees with what our class has been discussing since the beginning of the semester: If students are literate and are frequently reading and writing, they will pass the test. Clearly, our attentions shouldn’t focus on test prep, but on other activities that will ensure that kids pass the exam, and that they will be literate adults in the future.


I also enjoyed that these professionals tackled the controversial issue of outcome assessment, which re-appeared throughout the conversation. I am interested to see how assessment is measured at the “Schools Without Walls” on Tuesday. In the text, Linda writes that “too often with associate assessment with the end product, instead of viewing assessment as critical to the decision making right from the beginning of writing or reading” (265). I agree with this statement, and think that assessment should be a long process, not simply a measurement of outcome. I also agree with the idea of kids being more involved in assessing themselves. Giving them responsibility and simply a voice in the process could positively impact their efforts, self-esteem and academic experiences. Another important idea that reiterated throughout this piece was that of student doing “real world” work. We are discussing this in 506, and this is incredibly important. Kids will care when they are doing something real. Plain and simple.


On the last pages of the chapter, Devon writes that “schools have done a pretty good job of creating readers who are code breakers and perhaps meaning makers, but we’ve been less successful helping students become text users and critics” (271). Normally I would have agreed with this statement, but given my experiences in my host classroom, I have to disagree. I would say that less than 1/2 of the students are code breakers and meaning makers and even fewer will become text users and critics. I don’t think 50% success rate is schools doing a “pretty good job.” And, after reading the hand out from class last week entitled “Reading Next” and realizing how many students can’t read, how many college freshman need remedial ELA help and how many adults are poor readers, I further disagree with this statement. Check out the introduction of this excerpt and see what you think.





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4 responses to “Assessment and BEERS (chapter 17)

  1. sunyprof

    Thanks for contributing to this discussion of assessment Mandy.

    I wanted this reading to dovetail w/the unit planning and UbD emphasis on beginning with the end in mind–having desired outcomes firmly in place before you develop learning activities.

    Say more about your observation in light of what you say here about these students’ experiences with and familiarity with texts.

    The NYS Alternative Ed Association holds its conference in Ithaca this week. Alfie Kohn is keynote at 7:00 on TH night. His Punished by Rewards has already become a classic in our Discourse.

    I highly recommend your getting a small group together to hear Kohn speak. More details will follow on the blog.


  2. ll123

    I have read What Does It Mean to Be Well Educated? which is written by Alfie Kohn from my education class. About the assessment business, I would say, Kohn is definitely a progressive leading educator who firmly against standard test. I agree with many of Kohn’s viewpoints, yet I also understand some of the counter viewpoints by other educators, for instance, Rochester. Is there a middle ground as far as assessing students? Posted by L. L.

  3. sofiapenna

    I agree that students should be more involved in assessing themselves! Don’t you think that this, combined with “real world work”, will make them take ownership of their contributions to society? I am a fan of self-critique, because I find that I practice this often in my own real world. Don’t we, as adults, assess how we are doing on work-related projects, and then decide where we need to go to best meet our deadlines? Shouldn’t we teach students the value of self-appraisal? I think so! -Sofia

  4. allison


    Thank you for your post!

    This reading got me thinking about “schools without walls,” too. I wonder if it is a school that helps to discover the difference between (a) following an outline/guide of how to prepare for a test and (b) following a more individualized/ real-life curriculum. “We need a few schools willing to step up to the plate to do exactly that study- demonstrating that students do just fine on external examinations if they recieve thoughtful, individually tailored instruction from highly professional teachers.” (265). I wonder if “schools without walls” attempts this. From the packet that Professor Stearns gave us, it seems possible.

    I wanted to bring the ideas about mismatches into the conversation. I found one paragraph particularly insightful. It’s the first paragraph of the letter to David and Devon (pages 258-259). One of the mismatches listed is between “what state assessments value (the ability to select the single correct answer) and what 21st century workplace skills demand (the ability to formulate multiple anwsers to complex problems.) I found this compelling because it made me wonder if the content of the tests are at all useful. It was said in this article and in our class that students should be able to pass the assessments easily if they are taught well. Perhaps we should be changing the test content. Perhaps the assessments should ask students to solve more creative, real world problems.

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