As a parent of an AIG student, you may be having questions like “How will my student be assessed throughout the year?” or “How will my student be given feedback about how he/she is doing?”. As teachers we will be finding out where students are and taking them where they need to be. Our goal is for students to achieve mastery of learning expectations. We will be using formative as well as summative feedback.
Formative assessment can refer to daily work, observations, conversations with students, benchmark assessments, questioning, interviews or conferences and several other techniques that monitor student progress. Taking this information we as teachers then modify our instruction to meet the needs of students. The biggest part of formative assessment is the feedback. We can tell by the results what we need to work on in order for students to meet the standards and it is crucial that students see what they are doing wrong and what needs improvement in order to gain a deeper understanding of the content. As their AIG teacher I will never give your students “grades”. They will get feedback about their work and guidance on ways for them to improve. Having these frequent checks on student progress helps to identify their learning difficulties and gives specific remediation strategies to fix the problems that they are having. Instruction will be differentiated for each student based on his/her needs. Every child in the class obviously doesn’t need help with every problem. Giving each child feedback is essential to meeting their needs.
Summative assessment refers to when final products are evaluated such as the end of a chapter, unit of study, or end of a year. End of grade tests fall into this category. Summative assessment support final grades or levels of proficiency related to state standards. These take place after all instruction and student learning has ended. Summative feedback does not usually get descriptive feedback telling students what they need to improve on. The only feedback is usually a letter grade, pass/fail, a level like with EOGs or labels such as S, N, U. It is then too late to change the results. Teachers then use this data to improve the instruction of student that they will teach in the future. It is essential that we have a balance of the two. If teachers do a good job then students know what to expect on both formative and summative assessments like the EOG. These two types of tests can be the same test but the timing of the test is what makes it fall into one of the categories. If done correctly, formative assessments prepare students for summative assessments.
How do we know that our students are growing?
First of all, you need to know the difference in proficiency and growth. Proficiency is when students must demonstrate mastery of the knowledge and skills they’re expected to learn before moving to the next grade. It has to do with whether or not they have passed the content that they were expected to learn at that grade level. Gifted students usually do not have a hard time showing proficiency. Student growth measures are a method for determining how much academic progress students are making by measuring growth between two points in time. But how do we measure growth for gifted students? We must use assessment data to determine growth. Castellano & Ho have defined growth models as “a collection of definitions, calculations, or rules that summarizes student performance over two or more points and supports interpretations about students, their classrooms, their educators, or their schools”. They also identified three different models: 1) growth description (magnitude for growth) 2) growth prediction (future scores of a student given past achievements) and 3) value-added (what causes growth). Because most tests are designed to see what an average student knows, gifted students may only find a few items challenging. Therefore we should do one of the following: 1) give students above-level tests or 2) use computer-adaptive testing so that it tracks the student’s progress getting more difficult as the test goes on. Unfortunately ceiling effects are common for AIG students which mean that they can’t show growth on a later assessment because the student already maxed out on the first assessment. This happens with EOG tests so teachers of the gifted are likely to have students who show less growth than teachers who teach low to average students. So what can we do to show growth? We could use computer adaptive tests to track their growth. It is recommended that students take the same exam 3 times at a minimum without taking up a lot of time.
What is RtI (Response to Intervention) and why should we use it with gifted students?
RtI has been defined as “student-centered assessment models that use problem-solving and research-based methods to identify and address learning difficulties in children”. (Johnson, Mellard, Fuchs, & McKnight, 2006). You may be asking yourself if it is for children with learning disabilities, then why would we use it for gifted students? RtI components include:
●high-quality core instruction
●ongoing progress monitoring
●data based decision making.
Isn’t this what we would want for ALL of our students, not just those struggling? You want your child to be assessed to find out his/her needs, teach them what they need, and then assess what we have taught even if it is at a higher level or has advanced content.
How well do multiple-choice tests really evaluate student understanding and achievement? Many educators believe that there is a more effective assessment alternative. These teachers use testing strategies that do not focus entirely on recalling facts. Instead, they ask students to demonstrate skills and concepts they have learned. This strategy is called authentic assessment.
Authentic assessment directly measures student’s performance through real-life tasks or performance. Teachers are not only interested in the product but also in the process that the student used in creating the product.
Examples of Authentic Assessment:
- do science experiments
- conduct social-science research
- write stories and reports
- read and interpret literature
- solve math problems that have real-world applications
Principles of Authentic Assessment:
1)Authentic assessment is continuous, informing every aspect of instruction and curriculum building. As they engage in authentic assessment, teachers discover and learn what to teach as well as how and when to teach them.
2)Authentic assessment is an integral part of the curriculum. Children are assessed while they are involved with classroom learning experiences, not just before or after a unit through pre or posttests.
3)Authentic assessment is developmentally and culturally appropriate.
- Authentic assessment focuses on students’ strengths. Teachers assess what students can do, what they know, and how they can use what they know to learn.
- Authentic assessment recognizes that the most important evaluation is self-evaluation. Students and teachers need to understand why they are doing what they are doing so that they may have some sense of their own success and growth.
- Authentic assessment invites active collaboration between teachers, students and parents work together to reflect and assess learning
Castellano, K. E., & Ho, A. D. (2013). A practitioner’s guide to growth models. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.
Johnson, E., Mellard, D. F., Fuchs, D., & McKnight, M. A. (2006). Responsiveness to intervention (RtI): How to do it. Lawrence, KS: National Research Center on Learning Disabilities.