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Assessing Progress. Chapter Fourteen. The Quest to Improve Schools for All Children. (c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved. Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education , 5/e. The No Child Left Behind Act (2001).

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assessing progress

Assessing Progress

Chapter Fourteen

The Quest to Improve Schools for All Children

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

the no child left behind act 2001
The No Child Left Behind Act (2001)
  • The most far-reaching, controversial, and potentially expensive effort to reform public education, includes:
    • Accountability provisions, mainly accomplished through repeated testing of all students, especially in reading and math
    • Uniform standards in all major content areas such that accountability measures can be effective

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

debate about the assessment focuses on
Debate about the assessment focuses on:
  • What kinds of assessment
  • What assessment actually means
  • How assessment should be implemented
  • How much time should be given to assessment
  • Who decides the answers to all of the above

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

rationale for broadened definitions of assessment
Rationale for Broadened Definitions of Assessment
  • Since the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983, the debate about how well our children are learning has become both ubiquitous and emotional
  • This is the case despite the fact that the assessment of student progress has always been of central importance to educators

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

accountability and the educational standards movement
Accountability and the Educational Standards Movement
  • Emerged as a result of a large number of studies of schooling in the 1980s
  • President George H. W. Bush convened a national governors conference in 1989
  • This group produced a document they called Goals 2000, with suggestions for improving America’s schools in eight specific areas

con’t.

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

slide6

The National Council on Education Standards and Testing, convened by Congress in 1992, concluded that creating national standards and assessments was both feasible and highly desirable

  • In1994, the goals from Goals 2000 were written into legislation, the Educate America Act, which awarded states additional money for education and gave them considerable flexibility in how the money could be spent

con’t.

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

slide7

The Educate America Act was based on five principles:

  • All students can learn
  • Lasting improvements depend on school-based leadership
  • Simultaneous top-down and bottom-up reform is necessary
  • Strategies must be locally developed, comprehensive, and coordinated
  • The whole community must be involved in developing strategies for improvement

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

slide8

Central to the whole idea were several beliefs:

  • States and local districts should set high standards for achievement
  • Testing should be conducted to see how well students were achieving
  • Schools, teachers, and students should be held accountable for results

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

conflicting assumptions about standards meier
Conflicting Assumptions about Standards (Meier)
  • Goals
  • Authority
  • Assessment
  • Enforcement
  • Equity
  • Effective Learning

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

goals
Goals
  • Conventional View: it is possible and desirable to agree on a single definition of what constitutes a well-educated 18-year-old
  • Alternative View: In a democracy, there are multiple, legitimate definitions of “a good education,” and “well-educated,” and that plurality is desirable

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

authority
Authority
  • Conventional View: the task of defining “well educated” is best left to experts from the industry and the major academic disciplines
  • Alternative View: in fundamental questions of education, experts should be subservient to citizens—including teachers, parents and other family members, and community members

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

assessment
Assessment
  • Conventional View: with a single definition in place, it will be possible to compare individuals and schools across communities
  • Alternative View: standardized tests are too simple and simpleminded for high-stakes assessment of children and schools. Important decisions about schooling should always be based on multiple sources of data

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

enforcement
Enforcement
  • Conventional View: sanctions, too, need to be standardized, removed from local, self-interested parties
  • Alternative View: sanctions should remain in the hands of the local community, to be determined by people who know the particulars of each child and each situation

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

equity
Equity
  • Conventional View: expert-designed standards, imposed through tests, are the best way to achieve educational equity
  • Alternative View: a fairer distribution of resources is the principal means for achieving educational equity

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

effective learning
Effective Learning
  • Conventional View: clear-cut expectations, accompanied by automatic rewards and punishments will produce greater effort, and effort is the key to learning
  • Alternative View: improved learning can best be achieved by improved teaching and learning relationships, by enlisting the energies of both teachers and learners

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

the case for standardized testing
The Case for Standardized Testing
  • Based on the belief that American students are not competing well with students from other industrialized nations
  • One argument for why this is so is that American schools are too child-centered and have too much variety in curriculum
  • A second argument is that poor, immigrant, and minority students are not being served well by American schools; testing is perceived as a means to improve that service

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

slide17

The Case for Standardized Testing

  • The appeal of objective and standardized tests is strong among business and government leaders
  • The belief in standardized tests rests on a conviction that they actually measure learning
  • Requirements for the reporting of standardized test scores now include reporting scores by race and income
  • Reports are also required to indicate gaps between and progress of various subgroups

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

the case against standardized testing
The Case against Standardized Testing
  • Concerned educators and some well-informed politicians question the benefits of standardized tests based on:
    • A gap between the stated purpose of a test and what it actually measures
    • A possibility of cultural bias in the questions on a given test
    • Questionable uses of standardized tests
    • The narrow approach and application of tests

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

slide19

The Case against Standardized Testing

Critics also argue that standardized tests cannot measure complex thinking skills; that they often neglect both the context in which knowledge and skills can be used; and that they cannot measure the ability to connect one idea to another

  • Two results are common:
    • Students often don’t recognize out-of-context questions,
    • Students’ thinking skills, ability to solve problems, and ability to synthesize are not well tested

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

the case for multiple forms of assessment
The Case for Multiple Forms of Assessment

Three ideas are central to the argument for multiple forms of assessment:

  • Students must leave schools with more than low-level basic knowledge
  • Young people must learn the skills of cooperation and collaboration for life in an interdependent world
  • Greater accuracy in assessment across cultural groups must be achieved

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

slide21

The Case for Multiple Forms of Assessment

  • Proponents argue that teachers are most often the best judges of student performance
  • Teachers, however, must develop the skills necessary to make informed and accurate judgments in a variety of contexts and across a variety of groups
  • Comprehensive approaches and methods of assessment must be developed

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

characteristics of classrooms that use multiple forms of assessment
Characteristics of Classrooms That Use Multiple Forms of Assessment
  • It is important to distinguish between assessment and testing
    • Assessment implies a comprehensive, individualized evaluation of a person’s strengths and weaknesses; it is formative, used as feedback to both teachers and students
    • Testing implies standardization; it compares an individual’s scores to others’ scores; it tends to be summative, a final statement

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

pedagogies old and new
Pedagogies: Old and New
  • Teaching and learning activities are often project-based, open-ended, and ongoing
  • Students and teachers discuss progress on complex problems
  • There is an assumption that the entire community might have access to student work

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

roles old and new
Roles: Old and New
  • Students have a substantial hand in determining their own work and evaluations
  • In the development of portfolios, teachers and students work together to select those elements of the student’s work that best demonstrates learning and/or mastery
  • Parents may become active in the evaluation process by being encouraged to review their child’s work and make comments or suggestions to the teacher

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

place of content knowledge old and new
Place of Content Knowledge: Old and New
  • In classrooms that use multiple forms of assessment, content knowledge is most often acquired in pursuit of other, project-based goals
  • Effective teachers provide the context and environment in which students acquire knowledge that goes beyond their current experience—even beyond any perceived “need” to know something
  • Student work may be used as content to teach others

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

assessment old and new
Assessment: Old and New
  • Often, teachers and students work together to arrive at acceptable standards for good work
  • Students are evaluated on their ability to solve problems, to clearly demonstrate how thinking was done, or on how well they have collaborated with others
  • Time limits and criteria of acceptability are often broader or more flexible
  • Multiple conferences with parents are often an ongoing part of the assessment process

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

perspectives on means for assessing student learning
Perspectives on Means for Assessing Student Learning

Among all the issues involved in assessment, several stand out as truly basic. Chief among these are the importance of criteria in any kind of assessment, and the issue of the reasons for grading.

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

the importance of criteria
The Importance of Criteria
  • Determining the specific criteria for satisfactory performance is critical because in alternative forms of assessment there may be more than one “right” answer
  • Educators must ask themselves:
    • What does it mean to master a specific ability or skill?
    • What would a student who has mastered a concept or skill be able to do?

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

slide29

The Importance of Criteria

  • Making judgments about the appropriateness of student responses and other work requires that teachers a) know the criteria well, and b) are able to “see” student work from a variety of angles
  • Communicating achievement to students and parents is also important
    • Conferences are useful, as are collections of work over time
    • Assigning a single grade, however, is often difficult, if not impossible

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

the issue of grading
The Issue of Grading
  • Grading and reporting were virtually unknown until the middle of the 1800s
    • Most of western history, students were questioned orally, in part to see where students needed more work
  • Grading emerged as school populations grew, and as new ideas of scientific measurement gained popularity
    • The point of grading was to see a “finish point” in the student’s acquisition of knowledge

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

slide31

Grading may have multiple purposes

  • Grading to sort or to categorize students into groups; sometimes for instruction, sometimes for promotion
  • Grading to motivate; the idea that students will work harder to get a better grade
  • Grading as feedback so that students can learn more effectively

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

perspectives on multiple forms of assessment demand vs support
Perspectives on Multiple Forms of Assessment: Demand vs. Support

Alfie Kohn suggests that certain classroom orientations distinguish between

  • what we expect (demand) students to do,
  • what we as educators can do to help (support) student learning

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

slide33

In the demand model:

  • Students are perceived as workers who are obliged to do a better job
  • Students who do not succeed are said to have chosen not to study or not to have earned a given grade
  • Responsibility is removed from the teacher and attention is deflected away from the curriculum and the context in which learning is supposed to occur

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

slide34

In the support model:

  • The assumption is that students are active contributors to the learning process
  • Teachers are responsible for guiding and stimulating students’ natural curiosity and desire to learn
  • Teaching and learning become child- or student-centered
  • The goal is to help students build on their desire to make sense of and become competent in their world

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

ethical issues
Ethical Issues
  • All assessment is inherently subjective, which may not be an entirely bad thing
  • When subjectivity becomes biased, however, ethical issues emerge
    • Labeling of children for special education services, for example, may be necessary, but can also result in overrepresentation of ethnic and language minority students
    • Standardized testing often results in the assignment of inaccurate labels

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

slide36

Ethical Issues

  • Attributions made on the basis of any kind of assessment may, like attributions made in order to categorize anyone because of culture, or language, or disability, may be flawed by prejudice
  • Any assessment should take into consideration the fact that children develop at different rates
  • Assessments made too quickly, on insufficient data, can also be inaccurate, misleading, and damaging

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e

something to think about
Something to Think About

In many ways, an individual’s cultural experiences (defined broadly) determine

the kinds of abilities that are important and are learned

as well as the context and strategies in which they are expressed.

(c) 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Cushner/McClelland/Safford, Human Diversity in Education, 5/e