Informal Assessment Informal assessment means using non-standardized methods of diagnosing learning problems and measuring student progress.
Advantages of Informal Assessment Informal assessment has the following advantages over norm-referenced testing: • Can be more closely related to the curriculum • More sensitive to small gains • Less cumbersome to administer and score • Relates directly to planning instruction and teaching • Can identify specific error patterns
Types of Informal Assessment • criterion-related assessment--an assessment which involves comparing a student’s performance to a given criteria (rather than to a norm group; mastery testing) • curriculum-based assessment--tests which use excerpts from the general education curriculum as the subject matter for testing • direct measurement--measuring progress by using the same instructional materials or tasks that are used in the classroom • probes--brief tests used for assessment of mastery of specific skill or sub-skill
Teacher-Made Tests • When designing informal instruments research has shown that teachers are prone to make errors that may skew the results. • E.g., matching items, followed by completion, essay and true/false. Teachers may write test items using different levels of learning, although, many teachers use items at the knowledge level because they are easier to write. • Such items require the student merely to recall, recognize, or match the material. • Higher order thinking skills are needed to assess a student’s ability to sequence, apply information, analyze, synthesize, infer, or deduct.
Criterion-Referenced Testing Criterion-referenced tests (CRTs) compare the performance of a student to a given criterion for mastery. Criterion-referenced testing can be used to determine the examinee’s position along the continuum from acquisition to mastery. To be accurate, criterion-referenced tests must have “item density,” enough items in each domain to make sure that the topic is covered adequately. The advantages of CRTs include: • Practical • Fair • Assists with measuring educational accountability
Sources for CRTs • Adapt existing norm-referenced instruments • Use published criterion-referenced tests (like The Brigance Inventories) • Design teacher-made CRTs • Curriculum-based • Direct measurement
Establishing Criterion With published CRTs, the authors provide a criterion for mastery on their instrument. When a teacher designs a CRT, the teacher must determine an appropriate mastery criterion. Some tasks require 100% mastery (e.g., math facts) and others can tolerate a lower standard like 80 or 90% (e.g., reading comprehension). Typical criterion for mastery are listed below: • More than 95% = mastery of objective • 90% to 95% = instructional level • 76% to 89% = difficult level • Less than 76% = failure level (See Activity 5.6, p. 165)
What Does Mastery Mean? If a student is able to reach a mastery level score just once on a particular criterion-referenced instrument, this does not necessarily mean that the student actually has mastered the skills being tested. To establish mastery with some certainty, the student would need to be tested over multiple trials.
Beyond Mastery: Other Considerations • Does passing the test mean that the student is proficient and will maintain the skills? • Is the student ready to progress to the next level in the curriculum? • Will the student be able to generalize and apply the skills in other contexts? • Would the student pass the mastery test if it were given again at a later date?
Brigance Inventories The Brigance is standardized assessment system that provides criterion-related assessment of basic academic skills. There are three age levels of Brigance Inventories. • Brigance Diagnostic Inventory of Early Development (birth to age 7) • Brigance Diagnostic Inventory of Basic Skills (elementary-aged students) • Brigance Diagnostic Inventory of Essential Skills (intermediate and secondary students)
Brigance Inventory of Essential Skills The criterion-referenced individually administered Brigance Diagnostic Inventory of Essential Skills covers academic skill areas and life skills. The former includes reading/language arts, math, and study skills. Life skill subtests include food and clothing, money and finance, travel and transportation, and communication and telephone skills. The Inventory of Essential Skills also includes rating scales for measuring health and attitude, responsibility and self-discipline, job interview preparation, communication, and auto safety. Inventory materials include a student record book that records competency levels and defines instructional objectives and a class record book that provides a matrix of skills assessed, skills mastered, and objectives for a group of up to 15 students. The inventory is widely used to assess secondary level students and adult learners with special needs.
Strengths of the Brigance The Brigance is considered one of the most comprehensive criterion-referenced instruments. It is also viewed as being well suited to determining mastery of very specific learning objectives. The test manual states that results of the Brigance should be considered in conjunction with the student’s classroom performance, classroom observations, and scrutiny of actual curriculum goals. The specific strengths of the Brigance include: • Helps to determine what a student has or has not learned • Contains suggestions for specific instructional objectives • Requires no testing expertise • Can help with referral decisions
Curriculum-Based Assessment Curriculum-based assessment (CBA) means using materials and tasks from the general curriculum to diagnose learning problems or to measure student progress. Curriculum-based assessments are usually given at the end of an instructional period (summative). CBA assesses mastery of specific content or skill taught during an academic period. Students results are compared against a standard of mastery (e.g., student must pass with 80% of items correct).
What Is Curriculum-Based Measurement? Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) is the method of monitoring student progress through direct, continuous assessment of basic skills. CBM is used to assess skills such as reading fluency, comprehension, spelling, mathematics, and written expression. Early literacy skills (phonics and phonological awareness) are similar measures and are downward extensions of CBM.
CBM Is Formative Assessment With curriculum-based assessment, the student is measured from the beginning of instruction against the ultimate goal for the student’s learningThroughout the school year, the student would be measured against the year-end goal to see if the student is making reasonable progress. Measuring progress during instruction is called formative assessment. Formative assessment allows the teacher to make changes in instruction based upon the student’s academic performance. Thus, the teacher is able to make quick adjustments so the student does not “get stuck” and continues to make progress toward the ultimate learning goal.
How Valid Is CBM? CBM assessment practices are based on 25 years of scientific research at the University of Minnesota and elsewhere (Deno, 1985; Deno, Marston, & Mirkin, 1982; Deno, Marston, Shinn, & Tindal, 1983). These informal tests are time efficient and inexpensive, yet produce accurate charts of student growth over time.
What Is a CBM Probe Like? CBM probes last from 1 to 5 minutes depending on the skill being measured and student performance is scored for speed and accuracy to determine proficiency. Because CBM probes are quick to administer and simple to score, they can be given frequently to provide continuous progress data. The results are charted and provide for timely evaluation based on hard data.
What Is the Content of CBM? As the name implies, CBM materials have historically been derived from individual school curricula. Currently, the CBM field is moving towards standard general curriculum probes to increase standardization and make more accurate comparisons. This is especially helpful when curriculum changes over time.
Rule of Thumb Teachers can design their own curriculum-based assessments using classroom materials. There are some basic guidelines for developing curriculum-based assessments. Below are some “rules” for assessment design in various academic areas: • In reading, students should read aloud from reading materials for 1 minute. The number of words read correctly per minute (WCPM) constitutes the basic decision-making unit. • In spelling, students write words that are dictated at specific intervals (either 5, 7, or 10 seconds) for 2 minutes. The number of correct letter sequences and words spelled correctly are counted. • In written expression, students write a story for 3 minutes after viewing a story starter. The number of words written, spelled correctly, and/or correct word sequences are counted. • In mathematics, students write answers to computational problems via two minute probes. The numbers of correctly written digits in correct position are counted.
Baseline and Goal In order to set up a measurement process, the teacher first determines baseline in the skills to be taught. For example, the teacher would do three probes of a skill or set of skills. The scores for the three probes are averaged or the median score can be selected as the baseline score. Once the baseline number has been determined, the teacher can estimate the goal (e.g., number of words read correctly, number of problems solved correctly, number of words spelled correctly) to be reached by the end of the year. The research literature provides guidance for reasonable yearly gains by grade level. For example, a second grader with a baseline of 55 correctly read words per minute can be expected to increase oral reading proficiency by approximately 38 words by the end of the year. The goal then is 93 correctly read words per minute.
Aimline The aimline is the goal line against which progress is measured in curriculum-based measurement. In order to plot the aimline, the teacher would begin at the baseline score and draw a line to the goal. To monitor the instruction, the data are plotted twice per week. When a student falls below the aimline for three consecutive measures, the instruction should be adjusted. When the student excels above the aimline for three consecutive measures, the instruction should be made more challenging.
Content for CBA SCOPE SEQUENCE When a teacher is designing a curriculum-based assessment, a good source of information for what to include in the assessment is a scope and sequence. A scope and sequence is a formal listing of the range of skills and the sequence in which those skills must be learned in a particular academic domain (e.g., reading, written expression, mathematics). To see an example of a Scope and Sequence, go to the Document Sharing Section of the course.
Task Analysis Sometimes when developing CBA, the test designer will look at a specific skill or sub-skill and try to address it with items that constitute the steps toward completing a task or skill. The name for this process is task analysis. Task analysis simply means analyzing a task by breaking it down into the smallest steps or sub- skills.
Task Analysis Example Let’s assume, for example, that the teacher wants to assess the following skill: Recognizes initial consonant sounds and their association with the consonants in the alphabet A task analysis for recognizing initial consonant sounds might include steps like these: Test single letters (uppercase) for identification in this order– M, T, S, F, D, G, L, H, C, B, N, K, V, W, J, P Test single letters (lowercase) for identification in this order-- m, t, s, f, d, r, g, l, h, c, b, n , k ,v, w, j, p Test matching of upper- and lowercase consonants Test matching most common sounds with consonants Test initial consonant sound identification in CVC words
Error Analysis Error analysis is one of the best ways to determine what types of academic problems a student may be having. What the teacher does is look for patterns of errors. Once the error patterns are discovered, the teacher can then develop instructional lessons to correct the errors. (See Activity 5.9,p. 167)
CBA/CBM Summary Curriculum-based assessment is a relatively simple process, involving a thorough analysis of the requirements of the curriculum in a particular domain, the development of items to cover the domain, and arrangement of those items in order from the simplest (or easiest) to the most complex (or most difficult). Using CBM allows the teacher to keep track of a student’s progress in the curriculum and to compare one student’s scores to those of other classmates learning the same curriculum.
What Curriculum Based Assessments are available to you? • Which ones do you use?
Value of Curriculum-Based Assessment • Provides more direct feedback to students • Supports increases in student achievement • Provides accurate screening information for eligibility • Provides useful data to determine when students are ready to return to the general education program • Is appropriate for assessing medication effects • Is useful in designing instructional programs
Cautions in Using CBM • Limited to measuring discrete skills; can’t measure global skills like creativity • More sensitive to changes in rote learning than in higher level thinking skills
Issues in Informal Testing • Are standards appropriate for student in terms of race, culture and gender? • Are test items free from cultural bias? • Is the language appropriate for the student? • Does the measure bypass the limitations imposed by the disability? • Are CBA measures of sufficient technical quality? • Does the CBA measure thoroughly cover the skill range? • Is the test long enough to provide enough information on the student’s performance?
Informal Assessment of Reading Decoding, word recognition, fluency, and comprehension are the broad areas of reading that teachers typically assess using informal methods. • Decoding--the ability to associate sounds and symbols • Word Recognition—the ability to read words instantly on sight • Fluency--rate and ease with which a student reads orally • Comprehension--ability to derive meaning from written language Bader Informal Reading and Language Inventory
MEASURES WORD (IN ISOLATON) RECOGNITION Basic Sight Words/High Frequency Words/Dolch List MEASURES WORD RECOGNTION AND PASSAGE COMPREHESION FRYE READABILITY FORMULA http://teacher.depaul.edu/Reading_Passages_FICTION.html See the wiki for The High Frequency Word List
Sample Informal Reading Inventory Motivation Statement: Imagine how you would feel if you were up to bat and this was your team’s last chance to win the game! Please read this story. Passage: Whiz! The baseball went right by me, and I struck at the air! “Strike one!” called the man. I could feel my legs begin to shake! Whiz! The ball went by me again, and I began to feel bad. “Strike two,” screamed the man. I held the bat back because this time I would kill the ball! I would hit it right out of the park! I was so scared that I bit down on my lip. My knees shook and my hands grew wet. Swish! The ball came right over the plate. Crack! I hit it a good one! Then I ran like the wind. Everyone was yelling for me because I was now a baseball star!
Comprehension Questions and Possible Answers 1. What is this story about? (Main idea--a baseball game, someone who gets two strikes and finally gets a hit 2. After the second strike, what did the batter plan to do? (Factual--Hit the ball right out of the park) 3. Who is the “man” in this story who called strikes? (Inferential--the umpire) 4. In this story, what was meant when the batter said, “I would kill the ball”? (Terminology--Hit it very hard) 5. Why was the last pitch a good one? (Cause and effect--Because it went right over the plate) 6. What did the batter do after the last pitch? (Case and effect--The batter hit it a good one and ran like the wind.)
Scoring an IRI Error Count: Omissions _____ Aided words _____ Insertions _____ Repetitions _____ Substitutions _____ Reversals _____ Scoring Guide Word Recognition Errors Comprehension Errors Independent 1 0 Instructional 6 1-2 Frustration 12+ 3+
IRI Reading Levels The results obtained from IRIs are grade level scores. Typically, informal inventories provide three reading levels: Independent Level, Instructional Level, and Frustration Level. A student’s Independent Level is the level of graded reading materials that can be read easily with a high degree of comprehension and few errors in decoding. At this level, the student reads independently, without instruction or assistance from the teacher. Reading materials at the student’s Instructional Level are somewhat more difficult; this is the level appropriate for reading instruction. Materials at the Frustration Level are too difficult for the student; decoding errors are too frequent and comprehension too poor for instruction to occur.
Criteria for Reading LevelsAccording to Kirk, Kliebhan, and Lerner (1978), the usual criteria for determining independent, instructional and frustration levels are as shown in the chart below: Independent Reading Level Word Recognition: 98% to 100% Comprehension: 90% to 100% Instructional Reading Level Word Recognition: 95% Comprehension: 75% Frustration Reading Level Word Recognition: less than 90% Comprehension: less than 50% These levels have been criticized for being too stringent. For example, Spache (1972) warned that “if the teacher employs an Informal Reading Inventory (IRI) for his estimate of instructional level, he may be expecting children to read with a very unrealistic degree of oral accuracy.”
Error Analysis in Reading Error analysis is generally used to investigate decoding mistakes in oral reading. The teacher records deviations from the printed text that the student makes while reading orally. Several types of errors can occur when students read connected text. Most systems of error analysis include at least four classes of errors: • Additions—the reader adds words or parts of words to the text • Substitutions—the reader mispronounces a word or parts of words; this type of error is also called a mispronunciation. (e.g., want for what) • Omissions—the reader fails to pronounce words or parts of words. This error occurs when readers skip words, when they hesitate in responding, or when they say the do not know a word. • Reversals—The reader changes the order of the words in a phrase or sentence or the order of sounds within a word.
Miscue Analysis An alternate method of error analysis takes into account the quality of the errors that readers make . This is called miscue analysis. Miscues are analyzed to determine whether they represent a change in meaning from the original test. For example, the substitution of hold for fight in “fight back the tears” is semantically correct and does not alter meaning. However, the substitution of ready for right in “he’ll be all right” does change the sense of the passage. Miscues that produce changes in meaning can be further analyzed. For example, the student’s miscue and the original text can be compared in these three ways: • Graphic Similarity: How much do the two words look alike? • Sound Similarity: How much do the two words sound alike? • Grammatical Function: Is the grammatical function of the reader’s word the same as the grammatical function of the text word?
Informal Assessment of Mathematics Math is a relatively easy subject to assess using informal methods. The areas that are usually assessed include: • Math facts • Computation • Math reasoning • Math applications The assessment should be combined with both task analysis and error analysis to determine specific problem areas. These problem areas should be further assessed by using probes to determine the specific difficulty. Interviewing the student is also helpful in determining how the student is reasoning through a problem.
Methods of Informal Math Assessment • Informal Inventories—Informal inventories survey a variety of skills to determine where the student’s strengths and weaknesses lie. Inventories usually have only one or two examples of each type of math problem so further analysis of errors is necessary in more specific probes. • Criterion-Referenced Tests--CRTs are used to assess mastery of specific mathematics skills (e.g. multiplication by 9). • Error Analysis—Error analysis is a process of looking at the student’s responses to determine why a mistake was made and to see if there is a pattern of repeated types of errors. Error analysis differentiates between systematic computation errors and errors that are random or careless mistakes. • Diagnostic Probes—Probes are in-depth assessments of the mastery of a specific skill or sub-skill; typically a probe contains several items focused on the same skill. • Clinical Math Interviews—Clinical interviews elicit information about the procedures that students use to arrive at their answers. The student is observed going about the mathematics task and then the student is interviewed to find out the cognitive strategies he or she used to accomplish the task. • Portfolio Assessment—A portfolio should contain several examples of the student’s work, including classroom quizzes or assignments, group or individual projects, written math reports or math logs, or artwork related to mathematics. Portfolios may also contain results of standardized tests and informal assessments, student self-assessments, and student interest surveys and questions. Teachers might include checklists of student progress, graphs of results from CBA measures and records of clinical math interviews.
Example of an Informal Inventory Addition 6 3 4 10 8 11 17 33 67 +2 + 5 + 0 + 5 + 3 + 4 + 5 +15 +71 Subtraction 6 3 4 17 98 47 10 14 27 -4 -3 -0 -3 -4 -32 -3 -6 -24 Multiplication 3 2 2 6 33 22 3 232 204 x 2x2x8 x0x 4x 422x3x 4
Example of Math CRTCriterion for Mastery: 100% (10/10) correct Directions: Round off each number to the nearest hundred (100). • 721 __________ • 7,879 __________ • 6,834 __________ • 881 __________ • 8502 __________ • 13,782 __________ • 789,332 __________ • 3,055 __________ • 803 __________ • 419 __________
Math Error Analysis • The teacher examines the student’s work and observes how the student goes about solving the problems. The teacher can then analyze what types of errors the student is making. Common types of errors include: • Incorrect operation • Incorrect number fact • Incorrect algorithm • Errors in place value • Failure to follow sequence of • Placement (working from right to left) • Copying or handwriting errors • Random errors
Error Analysis PracticeFor each of the following problems, analyze and describe the types of errors the student is making. Note that within the same box, all of the problems display the same error. 83 66 476 753 + 67+29+851+693 1410 815 148 1113 67 58 627 861 +31+12-486-489 17 16 261 428 A B C D
More Error Analysis 175 185 632 523 563 - 54- 22 -147-366-382 1111 1513 495 167 181 17 46 1206 divided by 6 = 21 x 4x 8 128 648 E F G H
Teacher-Made Probes Teacher-made probes can be used to identify specific problem areas. Mixed probes are used to locate areas that need further assessment or instruction. In the probe on the following page, each of the following categories has nine items: • basic addition facts of sums to 9 (first item and then every fourth item), • two-digit numbers plus two-digit numbers with no regrouping (second item and then every fourth item), • two-digit number plus one-digit number with no regrouping (third item and then every fourth item), and • basic addition facts of sums to 18 (fourth item and then every fourth item). When scoring a probe, the student receives one point for every correct digit in the correct place. On this probe, the student can obtain a maximum score of 63 correct digits with no errors. After three times, a high score of 40 or more correct digits per minute with no errors is a reasonable criterion for diagnostic purposes.
Example of a Math Probe 4 22 33 9 6 36 41 6 8 +3 +41 +6 +7 +2 +62+3 +5 +0 53 78 5 7 43 82 7 5 61 +44 +1 +8 +2 +36 +5 +4 +3 +37 7 5 82 37 6 4 31 57 7 +6 +2 +13 +2 + 6 +4 +18 +32 +9 Patterns: 0-9 facts, 2D +2D, 2D + 1D, and 0-18 facts Number of Correct Digits: ___________