Fundació Jaume BofillUniversitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

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We are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Debats d’Educació by giving the educational community the opportunity to air its views

Roser Salavert
Roser Salavert
Member of the Graduate School of Education, Fordham University, NY.

Member of the Graduate School of Education, Fordham University, and former Schools Superintendent, New York City Public Schools

The three things I’ve learned

Assessment is a tremendous tool for students and teachers because it is a genuine aspect of the teaching-learning process.
1

Refrain from spontaneous interpretations

I value assessment as a critical tool for learning and professional growth, but oftentimes, concerns about test results and newspaper headlines make you reconsider, How is this possible? What do they really mean? Thus, I’ve learned to interpret test results taking into account context and intent, e.g. PISA overall test results may offer a general sense about the performance of a group on a given subject, but we know that percentiles and scale scores are most meaningful when  associated with performance levels. At the classroom level, it is important to aggregate subscores, do item analysis and triangulate data from different sources. Most importantly, I’ve learned that the results of individual students can only be effectively interpreted within the context of their classroom environment  -–What were the learning expectations for this student? How rigorous and relevant was the instruction? We need to refrain from spontaneous interpretations; the more we extrapolate, the likely it is to develop an antagonism against this critical aspect of the teaching-learning process.

2

A team approach to data analysis builds collective responsibility for student learning

From my ongoing work with teacher teams, I’ve learned that collaborative inquiry not only helps teachers accelerate the learning of their small target group/s, but also promotes a school climate characterized by professional collaborations and high expectations for all students.  Training and facilitating these teams is an exciting and rewarding experience as teams quickly move from “seeing” data to engaging in a deeper level of dialogue and data analysis. Once teachers use their experience, knowledge and assumptions to examine summative data, student work, running records, and other data sources, they no longer ‘see’ data, but ‘build’ shared meaning. At this juncture, teachers no longer asks themselves questions such as, What strategies should we implement in the classroom to help these students develop better pieces of writing?  but,  What strategies should we implement to help these students develop as writers? That is, teachers look for the root causes in learning and seek to ultimately institute data systems that set students on the path to success.

3

Use test results to establish a context for student-goal setting

I’ve learned that a first-impression frequently becomes a lasting impression; and this is particularly worrisome when a student or a parent interprets a test score. On the other hand, when teachers take the time to inform students about the purpose and use of test results, and engage in constructive conversations about learning goals, the same test result may become the motivation to continue making progress.  Thus, a growing number of teachers use these results to help their students to develop and write year-long goals and short-term benchmarks that are relevant, challenging but realistic.A first grader reading goal: “Before the summer, I will be able to read the same long books that second graders read”, turns into an attainable  aim when the teacher also helps the student set short-term benchmarks: “This week, I ‘ll read [title & author]… and on Friday, I’ll explain it to my partner during workshop time” .  This is a practice that motivates, challenges, and develops a student’s responsibility as learner.

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