Here are more thoughts on assessment in addition to yesterday’s post. They should be timely seeing as teachers are talking about end of quarter exams, and upcoming mid-terms.
So, individually assessing student speaking one-at-a-time in the hall? This is a big waste of time, and here’s why…
My interest in assessment & grading began shortly after the first few months of teaching right out of grad school. I noticed that some students did well with the content from the first few textbook chapters, but others didn’t do so well at all. Thus, beginning the year with low self-efficacy that was hard to turn around. By November, I realized that students were comfortable with the vocabulary and grammar from the first few chapters of the textbook. Then hit me; if I had just delayed those first assessments by a month or so, ALL STUDENTS would have aced them! What is more, the students who actually improved had that lower 1st quarter grade (e.g. C) averaged with the new, higher grade (e.g. A), producing a skewed reflection of their ability (e.g. B). None of this made sense; I was playing gods & goddesses with my students’ GPA.
I began researching how to arrive at a course grade that actually reflected ability—not just the averaging I was familiar with and somehow never questioned (or was even taught about in grad school). I spent months reading up on grading from experts like Marzano, O’Connor, and even some stuff from Alfie Kohn. I moved towards a system that showed where students were at the very moment of the grading term’s end without penalizing them for understanding the content slowly at first, or even having those bad days that students inevitably have. This was how I came to use Proficiency-Based Grading (PBG), and subsequently the kind of no-prep quizzes that haven’t added anything to my planning time in years.
If you’re ready for that, hooray! If not, at least consider 1) NOT averaging grades, as well as 2) delaying your assessments until students have already shown you that they understand the content!
Here are links to my Thursday and Friday NTPRS presentations, and related posts for a) those who attended and are interested in reading more, b) those who slept in past 8am (I am slightly envious of that), but wanted to attend, or c) those who weren’t at the conference at all, but find the topics interesting just the same.
NTPRS 2017 – No Prep Grading & Assessment (PPT)
NTPRS 2017 – Same Skills Different Game (PPT)
Related Blog Posts:
No Prep Grading & Assessment
Same Skills Different Game
Assessment & Grading is, by far, the most frequent topic I’m asked about, and this year’s National TPRS Conference features 10 of those workshops on Thursday and Friday! Based on the descriptions, there’s a mix of proficiency people, skill people, tech-tool people, speaking people, rubric people, and more! I’ll be presenting one of those workshops, and have noticed that my thinking is a little different. I do recommend getting to as many of the 10 as you can, so in case you miss out on mine, here’s a brief look at what I’m about…
I have a very simple approach to assessment because the answer is always RLMTL (i.e. Reading and Listening to More Target Language). That is, there is NO assessment I could give that WOULD NOT result in me providing more input. Therefore, my assessments are input-based, and very brief. In fact, what many consider assessments—for me—are actually just simple quizzes used to report scores (see below).
I prefer to assess students authentically.
Use these quizzes to satisfy those school requirements that have nothing to do with acquisition, yet everything to do with teaching expectations. K-F-D Quizzes allow you to put a number in the gradebook that builds confidence instead of shattering it, while also providing input. Alternate with something like Quick Quizzes to vary your quiz-types a little bit without any prep.
When teachers complain about their certain practices that create more work for themselves and take time away from students acquiring the target language, my response is usually “well then, don’t use them.” Follow the logic below to arrive at why you need to wrap your head around changing Assessment & Grading practices so that you can use your prep/planning time, and personal life, for more useful and enjoyable endeavors…