Friday, February 13, 2009

Manifesto: Classroom implications

Looking at StigginsManifesto, I’ve discussed assessment for learning, levels of assessment, student and parent engagement, and standards. Here, some classroom issues.

Stiggins writes that:
Classroom assessments must provide that information, not once a year or every few weeks, but continuously.... Over time, the student ascends through progressive levels of mastery of prerequisites leading up to mastery of that standard. Ongoing classroom assessment must track that progress in order to know at any point in time what comes next in the learning. Only then can it serve truly formative purposes. (pages 4-5)
The Manifesto does not describe how assessment like that wil fit into a daily schedule. Trying to visualize the process, I imagine one student receiving notes from the teacher about her work on a homework assignment, and another having a quick conference about the quality of his work in a classroom activity. That is, I imagine learning and assessing being joined in a unified classroom rhythm.

Stiggins also expects teachers themselves to create the classroom assessments, not buy from a vendor. I suspect that equipping all Kentucky teachers for this approach won't be cheap or easy. Balanced assessment may well be the right guiding idea for the next decade of Kentucky reform—but we won’t get the big classroom changes or the growth in student performance by sending teachers a memo or showing them a video. If we want to them to move in this direction, we owe them sturdy support.

Manifesto point 5: Classroom-level assessment for learning is a demanding idea that may require a substantial investment to help teachers build strong new skills.

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