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Why formative assessment can be useful to teachers Gordon J. Aubrecht, II SOS-AAPT, Saturday 9 March 2013.

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Why formative assessment can be useful to teachersGordon J. Aubrecht, IISOS-AAPT, Saturday 9 March 2013


The IMPACT projectInquiry Model for Professional Action and Content-rich TeachingThis work was supported in part by grants from the Ohio Department of Education C1457-OSCI-09-49 (2008-2009), C1667-MSP-10-410 (2009-2010), EDU01-0000006141 (2010-2011), EDU01-0000007902 (2011-2012) and GRT00029161 (2012-2013).IMPACT program approach:1. content support from staff (summer, academic year) 2. lesson development by teachers working together (academic year) 3. common formative assessments (CFAs) (academic year)


IMPACT program approach:1. content support from staff (summer, academic year) 2. lesson development by teachers working together (academic year) 3. common formative assessments (CFAs) (academic year)


What do we mean by common formative assessments?By assessment, we mean asking students content questions. In the pre-assessment, we wish to learn about common student ideas. In the post-assessment, we want to see how students’ ideas have changed as a result of instruction.By common, we mean all students at the grade level receive the same questions to answer.By formative, we mean that the aim is to build teacher awareness of student thinking—and of what parts of instruction seemed to “work” and didn’t “work” by comparison of pre- and post- responses.


Teacher 1 at the end of year 1CFA’s were a process which I sincerely did not understand in the beginning yet tolerated them for the money. They are time consuming, difficult to read, and if you are not part of the development process, which I chose not to be, it does not have as much meaning. Being fair, I think the whole thing was a difficult learning experience due to the interference by the administration who really does not understand what is trying to be achieved by a common formative assessment. …


Teacher 2 at the end of year 1I was not a fan of this [CFAs] and knew in my heart that it was a waste of time and nothing but another source of stress for the students and myself. But I tried it out and paid attention to what was put on the paper when I graded my student’s work. I was amazed at what was being written. Not correct answers and information spit back to me but actual thoughts--good, bad, or indifferent--and ways of thinking about concepts I hadn’t taken into consideration. It was interesting to see what misconceptions my students had and what misconceptions did or didn’t change over the course of a 9 week period. I am always a better teacher when I know where my students are developmentally but it really helps to know what they are thinking that keeps them there or helps them to move on.


Teacher 3 at the end of year 1I think the performance record of the students is proof for itself when it comes to the impact the grant has had on our school district. The inquiry-based instruction has really brought about the developmental process that was missing from our district for the first couple years I was here. I have noticed the difference in my classroom considering I have at-risk students who come from very low socioeconomic standards. It has allowed them to not be limited to their home life or economic situation, but instead to flourish academically and prove that they can do science—that they do have self-worth. To me, the impact of the grant has implications far beyond just a classroom. We are trying to change the face of a community in dire straits and we are trying to do this through academic success.


Teacher 4… I will not say that I whole-heartedly embrace all inquiry teaching but it has caused me to approach teaching a little more opened minded. I now see more value of having students use inquiry as a method of learning. One way in which I have a changed my teaching is to ask myself; “Can I avoid just telling or explaining something?” and instead have the students see it, touch it or experience it. I have also turned some of my basic laboratory activities into inquiry ones.


Some gains—high-stakes test detailsTerra Nova Results (nation test used because MCS are ‘Race to the Top’ school)6th grade ranked in the average range (51.2%) 7th grade ranked in the average range (52.0%)OAA Science results (8th grade only)2008-09 school year – 41.9% proficient (1st year of program); statewide, 62.8 % 2009-10 school year – 45% proficient; statewide, 64.8 %2010-11 school year – 37.9% proficient; statewide, 67.4%2011-12 school year – preliminary data shows Grant MS reaching 48% proficient; no data yet available for statewide proficiencyOGT Science results (10th grade only)2008-09 school year - 52.4% passed this test; statewide, 76% passed2009-10 school year – 54.9% passed this test; statewide, 73% passed2010-2011 school year – 63% passed this test; statewide, 74.7% passed2011-12 school year – 61.1 % passed this test (preliminary data; no data for statewide results yet available)


Some gains—teachersDue to intervention, participating teachers had an increase in scientific reasoning ability as measured by The Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning (CTSR) (A. Lawson, 2000). Based on Piagetian levels of cognitive demand, the multiple choice test includes pairs of questions, in which one covers a content topic (such as probability or control of variables), and the second requires the person provide the reasoning for the answer choice. Program teachers completed the CTSR both in the fall of 2011 and again in the spring of 2012. A paired t-test showed significant gains after treatment during the 2011-12 school year (t = 2.798, df = 9, p = 0.021) indicating an increase in scientific reasoning ability.


The following chart shows OAA Science scores from 2008 (the year prior to the start of our program) and 2012. Note that even the low year (a class with a comparatively huge number of IEPs) was higher than in 2008, the year before our program began.


The 2010-2011 OGT was the first group of students who had come through at least one year of instruction in our program. Note the ~8-10% step visible in all categories for Marion City Schools tenth-graders.


The 2011-2012 OGT was the first group of students who had come through at least one year of instruction in our program. Note the ~8-10% step visible in all categories for Marion City Schools tenth-graders was sustained.


I hope you can see that we have made some inroads in getting the teachers to value formative assessments. The administrators ask for them, but really demand summative assessments. Teachers went along going through the motions because they had to, and hadn’t realized the insights they would be able to get from their students …Now, as you have seen, at least some of them do!