Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Performance Assessment and Rubrics/Elementary Language
Elementary Language Arts: Alternative Assessments
by: Lauren Carson lcars003
Assessment is an important part of the United States school system. Tests are generally used to gather statistical data on how well students are doing and how well teachers are teaching material. The state, parents, teachers, and even students themselves want to be tested to know where they stand on a particular subject. The main focus of assessment should be that of helping all students acquire a better understanding of literacy and learning and not simply to evaluate if students have learned or if teachers are teaching correctly(IRA/NCTE). Through assessment students are able understand where they lack understanding, are having difficulties and know where they excel in academics. From a teacher’s perspective assessment helps him or her change their teaching style on a particular subject to meet the needs of students or confirm that a technique is beneficial to students. Let us take a look at two alternatives for Language Arts assessment at the elementary level.
Portfolios are simply a collection of student works. In elementary setting students may be required to keep writing samples such as short journal entries and tests. This method of assessment is often considered a more concise method for the language arts because it gives an insight to student progression (Willson, Wright and Stallworth). Through portfolios give administrators and teachers an insight to students learning style and what specific goals the student may have in mind. According to Yih-Fen and Michael A. Martin a portfolio should be a joint effort of the child, teacher and parent. The student’s involvement should include selections of what he or she wants placed as an indicator of his or her work. Through this hand on selection the student is able to obtain an excitement for learning through the involvement. The teacher’s role in portfolio assessment includes note taking and field assessment. Teacher input in the portfolio process helps to back up the content of the portfolio chosen by the child. Assuming that work is sent home and completed outside of the school setting, parents need to understand what is being assessed and placed into the portfolio so they can aid in the development of the child’s educational experience ( Chen, Maritin). The disadvantages of portfolios can often be the same aspect that makes them beneficial. While allowing students to choose his or her work there is no standard to compare portfolios with, especially for those students not from the same school or state. Time also plays a factor into the disadvantages of portfolios. In order for a portfolio to be successful it must encompass work over a certain time span. If a student is expected to have a portfolio as a form of evaluation and has not been keeping work then a portfolio cannot be adequately formed or graded (Cullian, Galda, Strickland).
Performance assessment requires student to actively show understanding of a subject through such mediums as plays, group activities or projects. For the language arts performance assessment can be very effective. As with any written language the spoken language must be evaluated as well. Through performance methods students are able to show that he or she can not only write or understand grammar in a written form but is capable of conveying what he or she knows orally. Through Oral assessment teachers are able to listen to how a student uses grammar, easily take note of problems with vocabulary that may not be as easily testable via paper and pencil (Cullian, Galda, Strickland). Alongside the pros of performance assessment there also cons. Performance grading can be very time consuming to observe each child rather than all students being assessed at a given time. As there is often few precise guidelines for performance, bias can easily become integrated in the assessment process ( Chen, Maritin).
1. Give two examples of what types of materials can be found in a portfolio.
a. Ethnic background and economic status
b. Ethnic background and disciplinary problems
c. Journals and tests
d. Journals and economic status
2. Who should be involved in the portfolio process?
a. Teachers, principals and parents
b. Teachers, students and parents
c. Teachers and students only
d. Teachers and principals only
3. What are two examples of Performance assessment?
a. Oral reports and homework
b. Oral reports and reading aloud
c. Reading aloud and take home tests
d. None of the above
4. If Mrs. Jamerson has asked her students write a story and present it orally to the class using only past tense and second person point of view after a lesson on tense and point of view; what type of assessment is Mrs. Jamerson using?
a. Review Assessment
b. Performance and Portfolio Assessment
c. Portfolio Assessment
d. Performance Assessment
Chen Yih-Fen, Martin Michael A. “Using Performance Assessment and Portfolio Assessment Together in the Classroom.” Reading Improvement. Vol. 37.1 Spr 2000: 32-38.
Cullinan Bernice E., Lee Galda, Dorothy S. Strickland. Language Arts Learning and Teaching. Canada: Thomas Wadsworth, 2004
IRA/NCTE Joint Task Force on Assessment. Standards for the Assessment of Reading and Writing. United States of America: International Reading Association of America 1994
Willson Elizabeth K., Wright H. Vivian, Stallworth B. Joyce. “ Secondary Pre-service Teacher’s Development of Electronic Portfolios: An Examination of Perceptions.” Journal of Technology and Teacher Education. Vol. 11.4 2000: 515-527.