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Senior 1 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation

Implementation Overview: Senior 1
English Language Arts Classroom Assessment - Part 2

Managing Classroom Assessment

Assessment is one of the greatest challenges language arts teachers face. The practices that make language arts classrooms vital and effective--promoting student choice, assessing process, and assessing the subjective aspect of learning--make assessment a complex matter.

Systems and supports that may assist teachers in managing assessment include

  • dispensing with ineffectual means of assessment
  • using time savers
  • sharing the load
  • taking advantage of technology
  • establishing systems of recording assessment information

A discussion of these suggestions follows.

Dispensing with Ineffectual Means of Assessment

Teachers need to question the efficacy, for example, of writing lengthy commentaries on summative assessment of student projects. Detailed comments are best

  • provided as formative assessment, when students can make immediate use of the feedback
  • shared orally in conferences, which provide opportunities for student-teacher discussion

The time spent in assessment needs to be learning time, for both the teacher and the student.

Using Time Savers

Many effective assessment tools are time savers. Developing checklists and rubrics is time-consuming; however, well-written rubrics may eliminate the need to write extensive comments, and may mean that student performances can be assessed largely during class time. Some of the assessment tools in professional literature may also be useful.

Sharing the Load

While the ultimate responsibility for assessment rests with the teacher, student self-assessment also provides a wealth of information. Collaborating with students to generate assessment criteria is part of effective instruction. Senior 1 students may develop checklists and keep copies of their own goals in an assessment binder for periodic conferences. Students may be willing to contribute work samples to be used as models with other classes.

Collaborating with other teachers in creating assessment tools saves time and provides opportunities to discuss assessment criteria.

Taking Advantage of Technology

Electronic tools (e.g., audiotapes, videotapes, and computer files) can assist teachers in making and recording observations. Word processors allow teachers to save, modify, and reuse task-specific checklists and rubrics.

Establishing Systems for Recording Assessment Information

Collecting data from student observations is especially challenging for Senior Years teachers, who may teach over a hundred students in a given semester or term. Teachers may want to identify a group of students in each class for observation each week. Binders, card files, and electronic databases are useful for record keeping, as are self-stick notes recording brief observations on student files, which can later be transformed into anecdotal reports.

Teachers may also want to develop comprehensive forms for listing the prescribed learning outcomes and/or standards of performance, and for recording data.

The summary sheet found on p. 30 of the Senior 1 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation (1997) allows teachers to summarize assessment information for each student with respect to the Senior 1 English Language Arts standards of performance. It allows teachers to survey and monitor a student’s growth with respect to each standard throughout the course of the year and to make a summative evaluation. The top horizontal column lists the seven standards of performance. In the vertical left-hand column teachers list the assignments and activities (products and performances) that they have assessed in the course of the year. Parallel to each assignment or activity, teachers place a 1, 2, or 3 under each standard that can be assessed in that assignment (1 indicates "below level," 2 "at level," and 3 "above level").

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