Manitoba

Education and Training

Kindergarten to Grade 4 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation

Implementation Overview: K-4
English Language Arts Classroom Assessment

Assessment is "a systematic process of gathering information about what a student knows, is able to do, and is learning to do." (Manitoba Education and Training, Reporting on Student Progress and Achievement, 1997.) Assessment is an integral part of instruction that enhances, empowers, and celebrates student learning.


Meaningful Assessment

Assessment should occur in authentic contexts that allow students to demonstrate learning by performing meaningful tasks. Meaningful assessment achieves a purpose and provides clear and useful information. For example, it may identify misunderstandings in student learning, and provide corrective feedback and direction for further instruction. Assessment improves instruction and learning.

Meaningful content and contexts for assessment help students by engaging their attention and encouraging them to share their work and talk about their processes. Students need to take an active part in assessment. When students understand assessment criteria and procedures and take ownership for assessing the quality, quantity, and processes of their own work, they develop self-assessment skills. The ultimate goal of assessment is to develop independent life-long learners who regularly monitor and assess their own progress.


The Teacher’s Role in Assessment

In the classroom, teachers are the primary assessors of students. Teachers design assessment tools with two broad purposes: to collect information that will inform classroom instruction, and to monitor students’ progress towards achieving year-end language arts learning outcomes and the seven standards of student performance. Teachers also assist students in developing self-monitoring and self-assessment skills and strategies. To do this effectively, teachers must ensure that students are involved in setting learning goals, developing action plans, and using assessment processes to monitor their achievement of goals. Teachers also create frequent opportunities for students to celebrate their progress and successes.

Teachers learn about student learning and progress by regularly and systematically observing students in action, and by interacting with students during instruction. Because students’ knowledge, and many of their skills, strategies, and attitudes are internal processes, teachers gather data and make judgements based on observing and assessing students’ interactions, performances, and products or work samples.

Teachers demonstrate that assessment is an essential part of learning. They model effective assessment strategies and include students in the development of assessment procedures such as creating rubrics or checklists. Teachers often collaborate with parents and colleagues regarding student assessment.


Assessment Purposes and Audiences

The quality of assessment largely determines the quality of evaluation. Valid judgements can be made only if accurate and complete assessment data are collected in a variety of contexts over time. Managing assessment that serves a multitude of purposes and audiences is a challenging task. Teachers must continually balance not only the assessment of their students’ progress in the development of knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes, but also their own purposes and audiences for information collected during assessment.

A chart identifying some of the purposes and audiences teachers need to consider when making assessment decisions can be found on p. 22 of Kindergarten to Grade 4 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation.


Principles of Classroom-Based Assessment

Classroom-based assessment provides regular feedback and allows teachers and students to reflect on progress and adjust instruction and learning accordingly. See the chart below entitled Principles of Assessment that Assist Learning and Inform Instruction for a summary of key principles.

Principles of Assessment that Assist Learning and Inform Instruction
1. An Integral Part of Instruction and Learning 2. Continuous and Ongoing 3. Authentic and Meaningful Language Learning Processes and Contexts
Assessment . . .
  • is meaningful to students
  • leads to goal setting
  • fosters transfer/integration with other curricular areas and application to daily life
  • reflects instructional strategies used
  • uses a wide variety of strategies and tools
  • reflects a definite purpose

 

Assessment . . .
  • occurs through all instructional activities (observations, responses, logs)
  • occurs systematically over a period of time
  • demonstrates progress towards achievement of learning outcomes

 

Assessment . . .
  • focusses on connecting prior knowledge and new knowledge (integration of information)
  • focusses on authentic literacy contexts and tasks
  • focusses on application of strategies for constructing meaning in new contexts
4. Collaborative and Reflective Process 5. Multidimensional -- Incorporating a Variety of Tasks 6. Developmentally and Culturally Appropriate
Assessment . . .
  • encourages meaningful student involvement and reflection
  • involves parents as partners
  • reaches out to the community
  • focuses on collaborative review of products and processes to draw conclusions
  • involves a team approach
Assessment . . .
  • uses a variety of authentic strategies, tasks, and tools
  • is completed for a variety of purposes and audiences
  • reflects instructional tasks
Assessment . . .
  • is suited to students' developmental levels
  • is sensitive to diverse social, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds
  • is unbiased
7. Focused on Students' Strengths 8. Based on How Students Learn 9. Offer Clear Performance Targets
Assessment . . .
  • identifies what students can do and are learning to do
  • identifies competencies in the development of knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes
  • considers preferred learning styles
  • focuses on celebrations of progress and success
  • provides for differentiation
  • provides information to compare a student's performance with his/her other performances
Assessment . . .
  • uses sound educational practice based on current learning theory and brain research
  • fosters development of metacognition
  • considers multiple intelligences and learning styles
  • uses collaborative and co-operative strategies
  • considers research on the role of memory in learning
  • reflects current models of language learning
Assessment . . .
  • encourages student involvement (setting criteria, measuring progress, working towards outcomes and standards)
  • encourages application beyond the classroom
  • provides a basis for goal setting
  • provides students with a sense of achievement
  • provides information that compares a student's performance to predetermined criteria or standards

Classroom-Based Assessment and the Seven Language Arts Standards

The English language arts standards of student performance identify expectations for literacy knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes at Grade 3. The Grade 3 standards are explained in Kindergarten to Grade 4 English Language Arts: Manitoba Curriculum Framework of Outcomes and Grade 3 Standards (1996). When classroom-based assessment is conducted in conjunction with the standards, it provides information about which knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes students have acquired, exceeded, or need to achieve.

Provincial standards tests for Grade 3, Grade 6, and Senior 1 are based on the learning outcomes and standards articulated for each of these grades.

Additional classroom assessment information and examples are provided in this document in the following sections:

  • Suggestions for Assessment column of the four-column section. Suggestions in this column indicate ways to assess achievement of specific learning outcomes. Suggested Learning Resources list the references.
  • Strategies That Make a Difference chapter. Suggestions in this chapter relate to the instructional strategies provided. Specific tools and strategies for classroom-based assessment are described in Section III: Assessment.

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