‘Inside the Black Box’
This article provided me with a really good definition of formative assessment. The assessments form, or structure, future teaching in the classroom. Teachers base future lessons around what students have demonstrated that they already know, to take those things out of the lessons, and what students are having trouble with. To do this effectively I think teachers need more planning time during the school day or less students, at least beginning teachers do.
To many people have inputs into the classroom, or black box. Once the district administration determines what students should know and be able to do upon graduation or advancing a grade, the rest should be left up to teachers to determine how to go about achieving those goals. The outputs should be the same for all students coming out of a particular class.
On the self-assessment section the authors state that students should know what they are to attain within a lesson. I agree with this 100%. Tell students what they will learn and then help them learn. Don’t be confusing or vague or tricky with objectives. State them clearly so everyone knows what is expected.
Summative assessments should emphasize grades but formative assessments should do as the authors say and steer away from negative feedback. Tell students what they are doing well and what they can improve upon. Grades and marks do not do that.
‘Find Your Grading Compass’
I think this teacher’s experience reflects some changes that are being made to teacher prep programs. She was unclear as to what her assessments should accomplish and many now mandatory classes emphasize setting objectives and being clear on how they will be achieved. I particularly like her ideas on having clear indicators of success for every assignment, that most student work should be practice, and that students who achieve ‘A’ grades easily aren’t being challenged (on the opposite end of that spectrum I think that students who achieve failing grades easily need more attention as well).