Sunday, November 11, 2012

Assessment Problems

As a pre-service teacher, I’ve had limited interaction with FCAT data. I’ve seen students’ scores, but I don’t know how much information teachers actually have available to them. I’ve heard terms like “The Toolbox” thrown around, but it seems like our school is pretty good about allowing teacher flexibility to meet students’ needs. I’ve heard RTI mentioned once or twice by now, but I still haven’t seen it in action. Since I’m only there four, half days a week in math and science, that doesn’t necessarily mean much. Either way it’s nice to have a good framework, as laid out by Dennis (2009), for the future. I really like that this process emphasizes including students in the goal-setting process and making sure all teachers play a part. I also like that it doesn’t rely solely on tests like FCAT, but pulls in data from a variety of assessments. 

Caldwell (2008) brought up an important yet sticky point that the public puts more faith in standardized test results than classroom assessment. It is a debate my husband and I have periodically. I understand the reasoning though. One of the unique opportunities in being a teacher is doing what works best for you and your students, and you can’t really communicate that to the general public.

Being in a departmentalized classroom provides a sort of picture of the way different teachers’ approach to things like management and grading shapes the environment. Grading at the elementary level is hard though, harder than Caldwell (2008) conveys in my opinion. Children develop at such a wide variety of rates, and so it makes sense to consider things like effort. The students who aren’t quite there but really try might just be sitting on the edge of a developmental hurdle. At the same time, I don’t think something like attitude should lower a grade. I do like the suggestion to hold report cards until all assignments are in, but I don’t know that many schools would allow such practices. I think grading is something that should receive more discussion in our program.


Caldwell, J. S. (2008). Reading assessment: A primer for teachers and coaches (2nd Ed). New York City, NY: Guilford.

Dennis, D. V. (2009). "I'm not stupid:" How assessment drives (in)appropriate reading instruction. Journal of adolescent and adult literacy, 53(4), 283-290.