Category Archives: (Re-)Organization and (Re-)Construction

What I Am Taking Away From This Course (My Final E-journal Entry)

Another round of enriching, fruitful and rewarding trimester with my e-classmates and Teacher Malou is soon to conclude. I have not imagined (again) the bulk of learning I have gained from this course. Not only did I have a deeper appreciation of the role of assessments in education, this course was an eye-opener in that it taught me that teachers should not take the creation of assessment tasks for granted. The role of teachers in effectively delivering instructions is as vital as their role of creating, administering and interpreting assessment tasks that prepare students for their life after school. Together, curriculum (my next course, hopefully under Teacher Malou again), instructions and assessments spell an effective education that will produce responsible, productive members of society of the next generation.

As a young student up until my college years, I have come to accept poorly crafted assessment tools to be true instruments of measuring learned knowledge. Maybe because I am uninformed of their weaknesses, or maybe because I have so often come across these types of assessments that I thought there was nothing wrong with them. And I am not only speaking about objective and essay types of exams, but assignments, projects, portfolios and practical exams as well. As a parent, I have experienced doing my children’s projects just because they were not prepared and trained by their teacher to do the task. I had my resentments against such tasks but I could not challenge the teachers because I thought it was their way of teaching the students to learn on their own, and it was I who gets in the way. When it came to written tests, I have actually copied the teachers’ styles of picking up test questions verbatim from textbooks. This was how I tutored and trained my children to prepare for exams, simply because I know the test questions would be crafted this way.

This course has changed my views of assessments for the better. I am now more informed of the guidelines of creating traditional and alternative assessment tasks that will help train students to develop critical or higher order thinking skills. I now know that assessment tasks are designed depending on their perceived purpose, and that the results could be interpreted not only for grading purposes but for the improvement of the education system as a whole. I was also enlightened on the fact that misaligned assessments could negatively impact students’ motivation to learn, therefore it is a must that teachers are always conscientious of this aspect of their pedagogy.

In conclusion, I am once again grateful to my teacher and e-classmates for all the learnings I gained this trimester. As a fitting sign of gratitude to them, I commit myself in putting all these learnings into practice when I finally become a classroom teacher. It’s the least I could do to pay them all back. Any imprint I’ll have in my students’ success will have their imprint also. Together, we shall make a difference.

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Making the Difference thru Assessments

As a student, I have encountered a lot of exams, some are nerve-wrecking, some are not. But mostly, I detest exams that require memorization of facts. I am more at ease with application and analysis-based exams. Maybe the reason was that I am not a bookworm (though I love reading storybooks), I used to procrastinate a lot and usually resort to cramming before exam day (a very typical student who doesn’t have enough time to memorize all the concepts covered in the exam), and lastly, I am not good in guessing (maybe because I sometimes have wild imaginations that interfere with my logical thinking, I don’t know).

Bottomline, I would prefer doing problem solving than multiple choice/ true-or-false/ enumeration/ matching type combined, anytime. Answering essay tests is torture to me as well, since I was not a skillful writer as a young student, though I would like to believe that I have improved a lot as an adult learner, attributing this to everyday practice in my previous job.

So, needless to say, Math and I are meant for each other, we’re destined to be together for life. In Math, my analytical abilities come to surface and shine brightly. Memorizing formula becomes easy as I get to use and apply them to so many problems, employing deep level processing and embedding them in my long term memory. I guess that’s one of the many beauties of math, you absolutely must not forget a concept even after the test, for the next lesson is likely linked with the previously learned concept. Unlike most facts and trivia where students hardly remember them after the test because they are not used in the succeeding topics anymore.

imageSadly however, I don’t share this feelings towards math with the majority of the school community, much less my students. I have to innovate ways to engage my students in listening to my daily lectures so that at the end of every day, they take something new from me (constructivist approach). I have to imagemake them appreciate the practical applications of math in their lives so that they’ll find meaning in learning them (intrinsic motivation). If I have to constantly give them short quizzes just to assess what they have learned so far and make any misconceptions visible, I will do it (formative assessment). They won’t hate me for it (I hope so), because I will explain my purpose and discuss my intention of dropping maybe one or two low exam scores. But I will make sure that my exams discriminate those who actively, eagerly study their lessons from those who don’t (properly crafted test items). Meaningful feedbacks will be given to both types of learners, with the intention of sustaining and/or increasing their motivation to study. It is my greatest dream that someday, my students will share my same passion towards math, that they will realize that the greatest barrier to learning math or learning in general, is attitude, and I am here to help them change that attitude. Together we shall conquer the world.

Photo Source:

(http://www.docstoc.com/docs/66079897/C183-H01ppt—From-Fear-to-Fun-From-Math-Anxiety-to-Math-Success

Webcast Guide Answers

Why change assessment practices?

Assessment in the traditional teaching practice is mainly concerned about assigning numbers or letters to represent what a student has learned over the term. It does not in any way aim to modify instuctions or curriculum to better improve students’ learning. In today’s age and time, assessment has found a new meaning, in that it aims for high quality learning for all by redesigning instructions to further enhance students’ learning.

What I already knew

What I hadn’t thought of before

I already knew that assessment is giving grades by assigning numbers or letters to represent what a student has learned over the term/ quarter/school year. I knew that these grades sum up the students’ achievements and either celebrates or condemns the students’ effort or non-effort in his studies.

I never knew that assessment could be an effective way to improve student learning. Since my misconceptions on assessment is that it is only summative in intent, then it can not correct past errors either by the student or by the teacher. What a student has failed to learn,can only be charged to experience.

Assessment and Learning; Using Assessment to Differentiate Learning
Your Jojo Story
There are several notions which I thought of to be the basic truth, but due to the immense and easily accessible information on the internet, I became aware that my notions are wrong. One classic example is the belief that all children diagnosed with ADHD are hyperactive children. This could be because my schema came from viewing several media documentaries featuring only the hyperactive side of the disorder. From reading diverse materials on the internet regarding this attention disorder, I know better now that even hypoactive children may be diagnosed with the syndrome.

What I already knew

What I hadn’t thought of before

As previously stated, I already knew then that the purpose of assessment is to sum up or recognize the efforts of students in their studies, to either promote them to the next grade level or have them repeat the current grade level due to inability to acquire the minimum learning required to pass.

…is that assessment could serve two other purposes, more significant purposes in fact, to further one’s learning. From what I have gained from Earl & Katz’s Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind, and from Dr. Lorna Earl’s video presentation, assessment, in order to promote high quality education for all should focus more on the purposes FOR and AS learning more than OF learning..

Following the Webcast
Where do you see yourself on the continuum in relation to using assessment for different purposes and adapting your practices to the purpose that they are intended to serve? Do you have some experience? Are you starting to see the many questions that still need to be asked? Do you feel like your assessment practices are differentiated and appropriate to the intended purpose?

I am still on the emergent side of the continuum, being just aware of the other purposes of assessment. I have absolutely no experience in planning assessments for and as learning, though I believe that I have done formative assessment unintentionally, giving feedbacks to students with whom I have seen some misconceptions in learning. I have yet to formally plan and incorporate these purposes in designing my instructions, but I fully agree that I should make these changes soon because without doing so would beat my very purpose of developing my students’ potential to the maximum.

TeachersRoles in Classroom Assessment
Consider the three tables below and enter examples of how you do this already or could do it in the future

ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING

Examples

How do (or could) I:

1)Design and use assessments to determine what students are thinking in relation to the expectations, in order to streamline and target instruction and resources.

2)Create assessments that provide detailed information about the progression of learning in key areas of the curriculum

3)Target teaching strategies to the student needs that emerge from regular assessments

4)Provide timely descriptive feedback and direction

5)Select and/or adapt materials and resources for focused instruction with a student or group of students

1)I could use various methods of assessing students at the start of the schoolyear so that I would have a basis in forming a mental image of what my students have perceived to be true.

2)I would assess my students’ learnings as often as every Friday with a short quiz so that before the next week begins, I would have formed a mental image of what my students have and have not learned.

3)I shall group my students based on their perceived understanding of the previous lesson, so I can focus more on those students who are behind, by either giving them more examples for me to elaborate the concept or by using much simpler explanation using lay language.

4)I would put brief but concise “love letters” on my students work, pointing out where they started going wrong in their approach to problem solving, and encourage them to try doing it again, this time using the hints that I gave them.

5)I would deviate temporarily from the traditional blackboard discussion and I would employ  interactive, kinesthetic ways (which I would constantly be on the look out for) of explaining the concept and would find ways to incorporate my lesson in everyday life so that students will see the practicality of learning the topic.

ASSESSMENT AS LEARNING

How do (or could) I:

1)Construct and use assessments to allow students to think about and monitor their own learning and develop internal feedback or self-monitoring mechanisms to validate and to question their own judgments

 

2)Provide students with rubrics and exemplars as models of good practice

 

3)Teach students to reflect on their learning, identify different possibilities, challenge their ideas for inaccuracies, and work

toward better understanding

 

4)Provide opportunities for practice, independence, and responsibility

 

5)Monitor students’ metacognitive processes as well as their learning

1)At the start of the class, I would openly inform my students, orally and in writing, my expected learning outcomes at the end of the term. This is so that any ambiguity about the expected curriculum outcomes is ironed out and students would know that they can also expect me to be transparent with my assessment at the end of the term.  I would also generously praise students who exert good efforts in my subject so that others may be influenced by their success and will try to emulate if not exceed their achievements.

2) In correcting erroneous math solutions (yes, they must be corrected for better grasping of the concept), I would train my students to identify the focal point wherein they committed mistakes, and work from there in solving the problem again. It would make the students aware of what they did wrong on their own, and then this realization will be embedded in their long term memory since it involved deep thoughts.

3)I would explain to students that of the many weekly quizzes, I would only use perhaps four or five of the highest scores they got, in computing for their quarterly grade. I would further explain that this is done so that those who got low scores may not get demoralized but rather encouraged to do better next time in order to make up for the low scores.

4) I would assess students’ metacognitive process by giving them questionnaires on how they did their work (projects, portfolio, etc) and encourage them to answer as honestly as they can since these answers would in no way affect their grades. Students would be confronted with the thruth, whether they exerted much, enough or little effort in their work. Without the need of my praising or condemning them, students will realize the results of their actions and would lead to self-regulation in order to be happier with their own selves in the future.

Working Together for Purposeful Assessment
How has this webcast changed your level of understanding about the purposes of classroom assessment?
This webcast, along with the article of Earl & Katz’s Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind (2006), made me ,first, aware of the different purposes of assessment, second, what purposes are better prioritized than the others, and third, how these purposes should be aligned with my instructional approach. It also opened my eye on the impact of assessment on students’ learning and the ultimate goal of maximizing their potentials.

How has this webcast changed how you view your existing assessment practices? (e.g., Do you see ways you could ensure that your assessment is consistent with balancing the purposes? Do you think your students could benefit from new assessment practices in the classroom?)

This webcast, and the mentioned article, has changed my view of my own assessment practices in that I will now revisit my curriculum objectives, check whether the desired learning outcomes are aligned with my teaching strategies, then plan assessments according to specific purposes of “for, as and of learning”. Effective planning and execution of assessment with specific purposes in mind will help me understand my students’ learning, redesign my instructions, guide them towards improved learning habits and give them the most accurate and fair grade they deserve at the end of the term. Yes, they will most definitely benefit from all of these plans.

Do you feel ready to try making changes in your practices?
I may not have the experience and full know-how right now, but I am willing to give my best effort in implementing these changes in my teaching practice and make sure it is a success. Much as I expect my students to exert their best efforts in class, I too, must learn as much as I can to transcend from emergent to proficient in my level of experience with using assessment practices.

Do you feel the need for more support? If you need more support, who might provide it? Other colleagues? Your principal?
My colleagues and my superiors could provide the support I need in implementing such changes. I should be able to convince them of the benefits of these changes and the impact these would have in transforming education into one which aims at students’ achievements and ensuring a better future for them.

Looking to the Future
What are the three most significant things you can do to improve your classroom assessment practices?
1. I should check the validity and reliability of my assessments. They should make my students’ learnings and misconceptions visible.
2. I should redesign my instructions in order to have a differentiated one which would enable me to focus more on my students’needs.
3. I should make sure to give timely and descriptive feedback to my students to
enhance their self-regulation skills and further their learning.

What can I do to improve my classroom assessment practice? What do I need in order to do this?
I need to revisit my assessment practices, and confer with other teachers to correlate my findings with their assessments of the same students.
I should explore much on how to effectively alter my instructions to cater to my students’ needs.
I need to monitor each of my students’ progress and keep an accurate record of my observations in order to give effective feedbacks.

Where can I get what I need? Whose help do I need to engage?
I will need other teachers’ mental images of my students and see if they correlate with my own.
I can explore on the internet or I could ask suggestions from other teachers employing assessments with specific purposes in mind.
I can engage the help of my students’ parents in helping their children practice metacognition and self-regulation particularly at home.

How will I know that I improved? (i.e. What will I see?)
If in my next assessments, my students’ misconceptions have been corrected and they have a clear grasp of the current topic, which would not have been possible if they carried their misconceptions to this topic.
If I were able to get my students to fully understand the concept of current topic and erase any previous misconceptions they may have had.
If my students can fully employ self-marking and self-learning with minimal guidance.

This act will not put me in the hate list of my students and will encourage them to participate as cooperatively aspossible in all my assessments.

Norm vs. Criterion Referenced Tests

At the start of this course we were tasked to define and differentiate norm versus criterion referenced testing. Most of the materials I’ve read (and the posts of my classsmates) expounded on the scoring interpretation of these two types of tests. It is only through more detailed readings later (due to a question on issues confronting both tests) that I learned that the construction of these tests also varies significantly. Below are some major differences as extracted from the internet. Source is cited at the end of this article.

Norm vs. criterion referenced tests

Norm referenced test
– compares a students’ performance against that of a normative group

Test Purpose:
a. covers a broad cross section of the whole content domain
b. breadth but not depth (a lot of content gets covered, but no content is covered in depth)

Assessment Framework :
a. level of specificity of content is more global (larger grain size)
b. greater flexibility in item development/selection

Item Development/Selection:
a. items should maximize distribution of performance and discrimination among high/low ability learners
b. employs items of moderate difficulty and maximum discrimination
c. number of items for any specific objective is low

Score interpretation
a. results show “big picture” at level of content domain or subdomain
b. report by derived scores such as scale scores
c. Important for policy decisions

Citerion referenced Test
-compares a students’ performance against a content or performance standard

Test Purpose:
a. measures a narrower cross section of content domain
b. content is limited but what is measured is measured well.
c. depth but not breadth (intended to measure the content well enough to make important decisions regarding passing or promotions)

Assessment Framework
a. level of specificity of content is more focused (smaller grain size)
b. more limited flexibility in item development/selection

Item Development/Selection
a. items should align with content and performance standards
b. eliminates poor items and selects on contents
c. number of items for any specific objective can be substantial

Score interpretation
a. focused results reporting both “percentage meeting overall standards” or “percentage mastering a specific objective or cluster of objectives”
b. important for instructional decisions

Bourque (2006). Reflections on Norm-Referenced vs. Criterion-Referenced Testing in an NCLB Environment. Retrieved Nov. 10, 2013from http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/commit/c530/handouts06/100406.c530.BourqueML.pdf

You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get

imageThe reason for most students’ anxiety over exams is that they never know what they’ll gonna get, just like picking from a box of chocolate. They can wrack their brains out, burn the midnight candle over memorizing terms, formula, procedures and what nots, but they will still be groping in the dark as to what the test contains. It may have a lot of questions on areas one failed to review about, it may have essay questions which non-writer students dread, it may have trick questions, it may have complicated problems that needed to be solved, and so on and so forth. And the students’ agony persists.

But if assessments questions are given way before the evaluation day, if students know what the teacher expects, what criteria s/he will use to judge the answers, if students are given sample answers with good quality, if the teacher gives meaningful feedbacks and there are opportunities for error correction, then students will no longer grope in the dark. Conversely, they are enlightened and empowered to accomplish assessment tasks with a clear vision of their goal, high grades. Students’ anxieties, then, goes out of the window.

Are all these ifs possible, you may ask then. The answer is a resounding yes. Alternative assessments provide for all these accommodations for students. But won’t these accommodations make students lazy? Not quite. You see, with each convenience given, much is expected from the students. Just like Spidermans famous quote, “with every power comes great responsibility”. Since every possible factor has been thrown in to help students generate exemplary performances, it is expected that students will deliver exceptional outputs.

Oops, anxiety might just have re-entered through the door. But the good part is, students who welcome challenges, who accepts responsibilities, who do not procrastinate (in other words, good students), will benefit from this type of assessment. So anxiousness only settles in on those who are of the opposite type of students. Traditional or alternative assessments, they will be anxious.

imageNow where is the fun part in alternative assessments? Here goes. Alternative assessments may be assigned as a groupwork. Classmates team up to collaborate ideas and create an end product for submission. And almost always, they incorporate their childish behaviors during team meetings. Generating ideas is usually done over giggling, teasing, and so much junk food around. Isn’t that fun? Plus, social interaction attitudes are developed, not to mention that they end up as good teamplayers, a very positive attribute. Now that is fun!

Image Sources:
(https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/5105465600/h51F689D9/
http://seanbanville.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/writing.jpg)

Why Switch to Alternative Assessments?

image        image

Traditional assessments have come a long way. They have been a force to reckon with. Everyone, and I mean everyone, even young students now, had struggled with quizzes, tests, trivia questions et al. a.k.a traditional assessments at one or most points in their lives. Why change it then? Can’t we just stick with the old?

Yeah, change is inevitable. But it also is bothersome. Why do we have to get out of our comfort zones and think outside the box? So much for getting out, grrrr!

Well, if we have to be “globally competitive” (it had to be the most widely used and abused term nowadays), we have to start switching to authentic/ performance-based/ alternative/ “whatever-you-may-want-to-call-it” assessment. This new concept in assessing students has a lot of promise actually. It purports to gauge actual skills of students in applying knowledge-based concepts to real-world scenarios. So what if it does? What good can we gain out of this tool? If alternative assessments (as I prefer to call it) can actually measure how a student does tasks using analysis, creativity, application, innovation, and other critical thinking skills, then I am all for it. I personally have experienced several times that cognitive knowledge is never enough to truly say that I am capable of actually applying concepts to real situations. Cognitive knowledge does help, a lot of help actually. But never having the experience to apply it to situations makes one a know-it-all rather than a do-it-all.

Traditional assessments use pen and paper tests to measure if a student has gained learnings, alternative assessments use actual situations to assess if students can apply learned knowledge to solve simulated real-life problems. The former is easier accomplished and is over for a short period of one to a few hours. What takes time is the designing of the test by the assessor/teacher. Study/review/ preparation time for the test varies from one student to another, but is focused mainly on memorization or problem solving practices. The latter type of assessment is submitted, presented or performed with the assessor as audience in a very short period of time of a few minutes to an hour at the most. Designing the task is easier if the assessor is adept with it, or had several experiences at creating one. Preparation time by students is longer inasmuch as they are required to do some serious thinking, from choosing how to attack the task, generating and applying ideas, to the creation of the end product.

This serious thinking by students is what alternative assessments claim to be their most prized advantage over traditional assesments. Why? Because in order for students to generate ideas, they had to have background knowledge of the concept or lesson. This means that they have to study the lesson first, absorb and comprehend the concepts. No need to memorize, they can always look back for more readings. But if one chooses to do it easier, he can memorize so as to avoid constantly looking back, plus if one had looked back a couple of times, it unconsciously gets into his long term memory. So this is just like preparing for the exam, minus the anxiety. In addition, alternative assessments challenge the students’ minds to create products which will showcase their understanding of the lesson. This value added feature is over and above what traditional assessments can usually make students do, and challenging the minds prepares the students for their future careers wherein they will not be asked what they know but rather how they will apply what they know. The more practice students have on alternative assessments, the more prepared they are to tackle job problems in the future. Thus, they will be “globally competitive”.

Image sources:

(http://educ6040fall09.wikispaces.com/file/view/box.gif/110392913/box.gif

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6pXz8Mav1tQ/T8LsAMspKGI/AAAAAAAAAI8/Rm9yXn7dNXc/s1600/authentic-assessment.gif)

Close Encounters with Assessments

Having had experienced a multitude of written/ oral exams, homeworks, assignments, projects, recitations, evaluations, interviews and almost every type of assessment to last me a lifetime, and looking back at these nerve-wracking events, I can only heave a sigh of relief that I’ve surpassed them all, though not all as successful as I ought to have. There were a lot of times that the results lifted up my otherwise low self-confidence, then there were times that I had accepted that I can’t and was not tailored fit to be a creative writer or eloquent speaker. You see, english literature is my least favorite subject back in school.

Then there were entrance exams. They have been good experiences for me. The first time I had to undergo one was after elementary graduation,wherein I was not at the top three of the class, top ten perhaps,maybe. Then, I and majority of my batchmates took the entrance exams at the nearest private high school. Imagine my mother’s surprise and pride when I landed at the top 4 of the examinees who passed. Needless to say, I outranked all my batchmates from my previous school. Lucky me ! (not the noodles). Then came the college entrance exams. Not being too proud, just focused on what university to go to, I took only one college entrance exams. Still lucky, I passed.

image

Then came the board exams. This time I can’t rely my fate on sheer luck. I had to study hard, burn the midnight candle, and really, really focus on passing. This could make or break my future. Lo and behold, I got the top 17th place in the nationwide exams. Sure enough, it brought forth a lot of opportunities. This result also made me leave behind the “low self-esteem me” and started moving on with my freshly gained self-confidence.

These personal encounters with assessments had me realized what they can do to an individual. It had been a turning point in my life, a positive one at that, because the result is positive. But then, it could otherwise spell trouble, depression or misery if the results are negative.image Having considered these possibilities, I realized the heavy responsibility and challenge laid on a teacher’s shoulder. What may be the safest solution to this dilemma is to focus and design instructions with the aim that students will learn and pass. Not passing for the sole purpose of promoting them to the next level as mandated by the “No failing” policies, but passing because they have acquired the learning outcomes expected of them.

Image sources :
(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Z-YjkOzUTaQ/UXFKPbqBw0I/AAAAAAAAKiw/5m-XEqnvFj8/s1600/ECE,+Electronics+Engineer+National+Passing+Percentage+Trend.PNG
http://www.colourbox.com/preview/4457576-511772-pass-or-fail-keys-to-show-exam-or-test-result.jpg)

Collaborative Thinking on Assessment Construction

image            Source:   http://a4.mzstatic.com/us/r30/Purple/20/d9/10/mzl.jbjnvyze.175×175-75.jpg

My experience on the collaborative exercise was not an exemplary one. First, my partner, George Rivera, and I had to wait for each other’s reply before we can generate the draft and improve on it. Second, we, at least on my part, were caught up by doing assignments on our two courses and beating the deadlines. Good thing that George took the initiative to make the initial and final draft based on both our suggestions. Nevertheless, it took weeks to come up with the final output.

The process of collaborating ideas was beneficial for the task. As the old adage goes, two heads are better than one. More ideas, more improvements, better results. This exercise gave me a glimpse on how I can effectively group my students in performing a task and what benefits collaborative thinking can give to students that classroom discussion alone cannot suffice. Of course, they can voice out their opinions,comments and questions as I go through my discussion, but this collaborative task gives students who are shy or hesitant to speak out, an easier avenue to express their opinions.

We have decided to tackle the topic on driving lessons’ assessment for this collaborative task. The questions which seem to be the hardest to address was “how can i assure quality in this assessement process?”. It is not uncommon knowledge that some licensed drivers who frequent our roads do not have the courtesy and/or discipline necessary for a smooth traffic flow. How can we then design assessment so that those who will pass would really be qualified and worthy of owning a driving license? Take out the corruption in the system? That maybe a good point, but I suggested including an interview on psychological testing that will gauge an applicant’s mindset on how he will conduct himself on the road. George agreed on this one. Sort of like a performance based task, though most of the scenarios would be included in the written test, a psychologically designed oral questioning would shed light on the applicant’s would-be-conduct on the road.

Based on your casual observations or day-to-day experiences, how do practicing teachers actually construct their assessment tools? What are the implications of your observation?

I have been brought up in the traditional method of assessment. Teachers give objective type of tests like they were eating nuts. My children were brought up in a mix of traditional and alternative assessments. However, the alternative kinds do not always assure quality in the information provided. Most projects assigned by my children’s teachers were done at home, and much as I would like my children to personally do their projects, I had to intervene because there were some tasks in which the students were not properly instructed/prepared to do. Secondly, it had been observed by my children that projects obviously not done by students themselves get higher grades than those with the students’ “handprint” imprinted on them. The traditional tests, on the other hand, as I have realized on this course, do not also assure that students who appear to have learned a lot can actually use this “learning” in applications later on.

Well that was before. Now, with the advent of K+12 program, I have noticed a great deal of improvement. My two high school daughters were engrossed on doing individual/group projects which she/the group itself chose, created and performed. So parent intervention flies out of the window, but nevertheless, the moral support is still intact. And I am more confident than ever that they would be globally competitive as young professionals when their time to shine should come.

Misaligned Assessments

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Source:http://cdn.acidcow.com/pics/20110606/hilarious_animation_before_and_after_test_00.jpg

During my journey as a student, I’ve had a phletoria of experiences with assessments. There were teachers who gave too easy, average and mind-wrecking exams. Surely everyone has had these experiences one way or another. The sad thruth is, some misaligned assessments continue to be a part and parcel of a student’s life. I’ve had it then, my daughter still experiences it now. Her teacher in Chemistry seem to have a knack for giving insanely hard exams. Their section, the cream section of their level, had an average of a barely passing score. Their mostly low scores would translate that they barely understood the lesson. It would be wrong to assume that it was due to “a misaligned preparation on their part on account of an erroneous anticipation about the nature of the upcoming test” (Juachon) but rather on a misaligned instruction and assessment. When majority of the students do not get the lesson, it’s a wake up call for the teachers to reassess their own instructions.

Misalignment had several implications on students’ learning. In my daughter and her classmates’ case, the result is that most of their class, the cream section at that, got low grades in the quarter report card. Another result is that most of her classmates either just accepted the fact that they cannot do well in Chemistry exams or worse, they failed to make it to the honor roll because their Chemistry grade did not meet the minimum grade requirement. In both cases the students, though I hope not, may be disheartened and lose their motivation to excel.

Conversely, if a teacher gives too easy exams, the result is that students may not be motivated to study hard since they know they can either get a passing score in a snap, or a higher one if they were lucky enough to remember the lesson well.

Therefore, in both cases of poor alignment, the result is that the students may lose their motivation to study.

For the teachers, poor alignment will give poor feedback on whether or not their students had acquired the expected learning outcomes. For those who give too easy tests, they may have the misconception that their students had learned well even if they did not, and no modification of instruction is necessary. For those who give too hard tests, they may think that the students failed to comprehend the lesson, and a lot of modification in instruction is necessary.

God is the ultimate assessor

I have always dreaded long tests which dealt with a lot of memorization and composing thoughts. I would rather take on two or three problem solving tests than one with fill in the blanks. But then tests are tests. They cannot be separated from anxiety and stress, can they? Even with these math tests, of which I can say I am very comfortable with, I still feel anxious. What if I forgot the formulas? Or if I jumbled the variables in my mind? What if I pressed the wrong keys on my calculator without my noticing it and ended up with the wrong answer? What if, what if, so many what ifs. This stressful feeling lingers on even after the test was administered. So yeah, the feeling only gets better when I get the results. Then for so many occassions, results affect my attitude towards a subject. High grades, naturally lift up my confidence in that subject, makes me believe in myself and want to duplicate the effort and the result. Not so very high grades, either makes me want to double/triple my effort, or just accept that that was not my field of expertise, so be it. Then for the very few times that I had a failing mark, well, it haunted for me several days, until I was able to compensate it with a high mark to get a passing average.

I don’t think I have ever positively anticipated assessment of my performance. Reasons? Well firstly, I may not have the “best performance of my life” to be assessed of. Secondly, even if I thought I did good (or great), the assessors may not see it that way, so assessment would basically be subject to their judgment. Whatever the result is, if I know I did my best, that was enough for me, I knew God knew better than any assessor.