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What Do We Know about Assessment?

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What current research says about effective assessment:
1) Multiple assessments are needed for an accurate portrait of the academic achievement of all students.
  • Andrade, H. & Valtcheva, A. (2009). Promoting learning and achievement through self-assessment.  Theory into Practice, 48(1), 12-19.

    This article promotes student learning through self-assessment, whereby students identify strengths and weaknesses within their own work in order to make improvements.

    Click to read abstract  |  Preview/Access Online  |

  • Barrett, H. (2007).  Researching electronic portfolios and learner engagement: The REFLECT initiative.  Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 50(6), 436-449.

    This article describes the REFLECT initiative, a study of electronic portfolio use in twenty high schools and middle schools.  Preliminary findings indicate that the teacher’s role, access to technology, and a support network are critical to the success of electronic portfolios.

    Click to read abstract  |  Preview/Access Online  |


  • Guskey, T.R. (2003).  How classroom assessments improve learning.  Educational Leadership, 60(5), 6-11.

    This article examines how teachers can make educational assessments meaningful learning experiences for students. Topics include how to follow assessments with corrective instruction and allowing students second chances to demonstrate their understanding.

    Click to read abstract  |  Preview/Access Online  |

  • Romeo, L. (2008). Informal writing assessment linked to instruction: A continuous process for teachers, students, and parents.  Reading & Writing Quarterly, 24(1), 25-51.

    This article promotes daily, classroom informal writing assessments and provides examples of and purposes for types of assessment.

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2) High-stakes testing may be detrimental to student learning and motivation.
  • Afflerbach, P. (2005). High stakes testing and reading assessment: National reading conference policy brief. Journal of Literacy Research, 37(2), 151-162.

    This reading brief describes the liabilities associated with high-stakes testing, including lack of research supporting a link between testing with reading achievement.

    Click to read abstract  |  Preview/Access Online  |


  • Amrein, A.L. & Berliner, D.C. (2003). The effects of high-stakes testing on student motivation and learning. Educational Leadership, 60(5), 32- 38.

    Research suggests that high-stakes testing creates less intrinsic student motivation and alienates students from self-directed learning. Topics include how high-stakes testing has impacted the rate of high school dropouts and student retention.

    Click to read abstract Preview/Access Online  |

 

  • Huempfner, L. (2004).  Can one size fit all?  The imperfect assumptions of parallel achievement tests for bilingual students.  Bilingual Research Journal, 28, 379-399.

    This article focuses on some of the faulty assumptions that are made in the development of large-scale assessments for Spanish-speaking English language learners and argues that new measures need to be taken to assure that these tests reflect the best interests of the populations to whom they are administered.

    Click to read abstract  |  Preview/Access Online  |


  • Neill, M. (2003). The dangers of testing. Educational Leadership. 60(5), 43-46.

    The author suggests that high-stakes testing often impedes higher-level learning and skilled teaching because of the one-sided focus on test results. Data reveals that standardized testing has not led to an improvement in academic achievement.

    Click to read abstract Preview/Access Online  |

 

  • Triplett, C. (2005). Third through Sixth Graders’ Perceptions of High-Stakes Testing. Journal of Literacy Research 37(2), 237-260.

    This study examined attitudes towards high-stakes testing by asking 225 elementary students to draw a picture and write a description that reflected their recent testing experiences.  Results indicate students’ negativity toward and anxiety concerning high-stakes tests.

    Click to read abstract Preview/Access Online  |

3) Assessments need to take into consideration both traditional components and elements that may be different for 21st century student work.
  • Chase, C. I. (1999). Contemporary assessment for educators. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

    This book provides teachers with a comprehensive overview of knowledge about and issues of classroom assessment.

    Click to read abstract  |  Preview/Access Online  |


  • Walsh, M. (2008). Worlds have collided and modes have merged: Classroom evidence of changed literacy practices.  Literacy, 42(2), 101-108.

    This article examines the use of multi-modal literacies and digital texts in the classroom, and demonstrates how classroom literacy practices can incorporate and assess both traditional and new literacy practices.

    Click to read abstract  |  Preview/Access Online  |

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Andrade (2009) Abstract:

Criteria-referenced self-assessment is a process during which students collect information about their own performance or progress; compare it to explicitly stated criteria, goals, or standards; and revise accordingly. The authors argue that self-assessment must be a formative type of assessment, done on drafts of works in progress: It should not be a matter of determining one's own grade. As such, the purposes of self-assessment are to identify areas of strength and weakness in one's work in order to make improvements and promote learning. Criteria-referenced self-assessment has been shown to promote achievement. This article introduces criteria-referenced self-assessment, describes how it is done, and reviews some of the research on its benefits to students.

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Barrett (2007) Abstract:

Theoretical background for researching student learning, engagement, and collaboration through the development of electronic portfolios is described in this article. After providing an overview of the limited research on portfolios in education, the author discusses the accepted definitions, multiple purposes, and conflicting theoretical paradigms of electronic portfolios. Principles of student motivation and engagement are covered, and the philosophical issues related to portfolio assessment and reflection are outlined--paying particular attention to the difference between assessment "for" learning and assessment "of" learning.

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Guskey (2003) Abstract:

Large-scale assessments, like all assessments, are designed for a specific purpose. Those used in most states today are designed to rank-order schools and students for the purposes of accountability--and some do so fairly well. But assessments designed for ranking are generally not good instruments for helping teachers improve their instruction or modify their approach to individual students. First, students take them at the end of the school year, when most instructional activities are near completion. Second, teachers don't receive the results until two or three months later, by which time their students have usually moved on to other teachers. And third, the results that teachers receive usually lack the level of detail needed to target specific improvements (Barton, 2002; Kifer, 2001).

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Romeo (2008) Abstract:

This article presents a comprehensive model of daily, classroom informal writing assessment that is constantly linked to instruction and the characteristics of proficient writers. Methods for promoting teacher, student, and parent collaboration and their roles in dialoguing, conferencing, and reflection are discussed. Strategies for including struggling writers in this process as peer listeners/questioners and individual self-questioners who regulate their own learning and set future goals are explored. Informal writing assessments such as observations, interest and self-efficacy inventories, checklists, using rubrics to analyze writing samples, and the development and management of electronic portfolios are discussed in the context of a literate classroom writing environment.

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Afflerbach (2005) Abstract:

This National Reading Conference Policy Brief provides information related to high stakes reading tests and reading assessment. High stakes reading tests are those with highly consequential outcomes for students, teachers, and schools. These outcomes may include student promotion or retention, student placement in reading groups, school funding decisions, labeling of schools as successful or failing, and the degree of community support for a school. The Policy Brief focuses on the popularity of high stakes tests, the uses and misuses of high stakes tests, and the consequences of high stakes testing. Although many believe high stakes tests to be central to efforts to raise school accountability and student achievement, these tests are accompanied by numerous liabilities. These include the following: (1) High stakes tests are used with increasing frequency in spite of the fact that there is no research that links increased testing with increased reading achievement; 2) High stakes tests are limited in their ability to describe students' reading achievement; (3) High stakes tests may be harmful to students' self-esteem and motivation; (4) High stakes tests confine and constrict reading curriculum; (5) High stakes tests alienate teachers; (6) High stakes tests disrupt high quality teaching and learning; and (7) High stakes tests demand significant allocation of time and money that could be otherwise used to increase reading achievement.

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Amrein (2003) Abstract:

The current generation of policymakers did not invent high-stakes testing. Tests of various sorts have determined which immigrants could enter the United States at the turn of the 20th century, who could serve in the armed forces, who was gifted, who needed special education, and who received scholarships to college. But the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 aims to make high-stakes testing more pervasive than ever before, mandating annual testing of students in grades 3-8 in reading and math.

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Huempfner (2004) Abstract:

With the advent of George W. Bush's education policy, emphasizing the frequent large-scale assessment of children in American public schools, it has become even more important than ever before to examine the fairness of the testing process and instruments being used to make decisions about children and their schools. When the children being assessed have limited English proficiency, one of the most common means of assessing them is the use of parallel assessments: standardized achievement tests, developed in the native language of the English language learners, that emulate the content of their English-language counterparts. This article focuses on some of the faulty assumptions that are made in the development of such tests for Spanish-speaking English language learners and argues that new measures need to be taken to assure that these tests reflect the best interests of the populations to whom they are administered.

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Neill (2003) Abstract:

Driving instruction with high-stakes tests will not improve schools. A large body of research demonstrates that high-stakes testing narrows curriculum and dumbs down instruction. It causes students to turn off, tune out, and often drop out; induces schools to push students out; increases grade retention; propels teachers to leave; and inhibits needed improvements. In the end, high-stakes testing will hurt students--particularly those students who most desperately need better schools.

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Triplett (2005) Abstract:

This study examined elementary students' perceptions of high-stakes testing through the use of drawings and writings. On the day after students completed their high-stakes tests in the spring, 225 students were asked to “draw a picture about your recent testing experience.” The same students then responded in writing to the prompt “tell me about your picture.” During data analysis, nine categories were constructed from the themes in students' drawings and written descriptions: Emotions, Easy, Content Areas, Teacher Role, Student Metaphors, Fire, Power/Politics, Adult Language, and Culture of Testing. Each of these categories was supported by drawings and written descriptions. Two additional categories were compelling because of their prevalence in students' drawings: Accoutrements of Testing and Isolation. The researchers examine the prevailing negativity in students' responses and suggest ways to decrease students' overall test anxiety, including making changes in the overall testing culture and changing the role teachers play in test preparation.

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Chase (1999) Abstract:

This book provides basic skills and knowledge about assessment so that teachers can expand their ability to deal with appraisal problems in their own settings. The first section deals with the basic principles of assessment. The second section concerns creating and applying assessment tools. The third section reviews issues in understanding and interpreting published tests, and the fourth section deals with summarizing the achievement of teachers and children in various school programs.

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Walsh (2008) Abstract:

Debates continue in public and in educational policy forums about the "basics" of literacy while many have not recognized that these basics may never be the same again. Rapid changes in digital communication provide facilities for reading and writing to be combined with various and often quite complex aspects of music, photography and film. At the same time, educational policy and national testing requirements are still principally focused on the reading and writing of print-based texts. This paper examines evidence from classroom research to analyze the nature of multimodal literacy, the literacy that is needed in contemporary times for reading, viewing, responding to and producing multimodal and digital texts. Examples of students' engagement in multimodal literacy are presented to demonstrate how classroom literacy practices can incorporate the practices of talking, listening, reading and writing together with processing the modes of written text, image, sound and movement in print and digital texts. 

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