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.