Assessment is an integral part of our classroom. Both formal and informal assessments are woven into our daily routine to evaluate the students’ abilities, growth, and achievements. Informal assessment occurs through observation during the following times: class discussions, individual and cooperative activities, debriefing times, and in one-on-one teacher/student conferences.
Formal assessment also takes place in many ways. Student work is often evaluated using scoring rubrics. At other times, a traditional percentage or point system is used. Projects are evaluated according to the established project criteria. When these projects are assigned, expectations are clearly communicated in writing and verbally. After students have been evaluated, the results are often a topic for discussion between students and teacher.
Class work and homework are corrected and returned to students in a timely fashion. We often debrief homework on the day it is due to provide students with immediate feedback on their progress. Both standardized and teacher-designed assessment is utilized, with the results being shared and discussed to focus on what was learned and what needs attention.
Our Fall Parent-Teacher-Student conferences are important components of assessment, as we are all able to come together as a team to discuss growth and goals.
Portfolios are an integral part of assessment in our room. A portfolio is a collection of a student’s work that enables the student, teacher, and parents to see the efforts, progress, and achievements in given areas over time. When we all look at, talk about, and reflect upon the contents of the portfolio, we have a way to identify both strengths and weaknesses . . . and we have a tangible guide for helping to set realistic goals for the future.
Portfolios allow students to monitor their ongoing achievement and provide and opportunity for them to plan a larger role in their own learning. In addition, using portfolios is a way to assess a student’s communication, critical thinking, and self-evaluation skills.
I put representative pieces of work into each student’s portfolio. Attached to most pieces in an “entry slip,” a written rationale for why an item is included. Students also select samples to include in their portfolios, and they also explain why these samples were chosen with the attached entry slips. A sample selected may be an example of a student’s best effort, an example of an area of improvement, and/or an example of an area that needs to improve.
From time to time, a packet of student work will be sent home. At this time, parents have the opportunity to make their own selections for their child’s portfolio using a “Parent Entry Slip.” Parents may also review the portfolio at any time.