I had a thought provoking conversation with a parent this evening. She was curious about the use of tests and quizzes this year. Having heard that 4th grade was a big year for testing, she is surprised that there has not been more of this type of assessment throughout the year. This year we have made the switch from percentage grades to performance indicators. It is definitely a time of transition for teachers. We need to develop more rubrics and checklists to support this new format and to provide feedback on student progress. We have had several unit tests and quizzes, but are putting a greater emphasis on day to day performance and observation. I discussed the importance of ongoing assessment that helps us to best meet the needs of our students. Frequently, unit exams test a rather large amount of material requiring a significant amount of memorization of facts. Is this rigor? Do children who are tested more, learn more? Of course, I am now reflecting on my belief system. Am I doing enough to challenge students? Am I holding them accountable? Must a worksheet be completed to gauge understanding? Isn’t it important to instill a love of learning, to foster a sense curiosity and a “can do” attitude? I feel that it is also important to teach children the value of a strong work ethic and provide opportunities to work cooperatively with others.
It is evident that I need to digest all of this in order to organize my thoughts to better explain my philosophy on assessment. Like I often do I will gather some mentor texts to assist me. Please share your thoughts and suggestions.