Assessment: Communicating, Evaluating, and Reporting

“… we can tell a little more of the truth. In doing so, it turns out that we can avoid pretending that a student’s whole performance or intelligence can be summed up in one number.” -Peter Elbow

As Davies describes throughout chapters nine and ten of Making Classroom Assessment Work, there are various ways we can assess and communicate a students whole performance/intelligence that are more reliable than a single mark or number on a report card. I can appreciate and see the importance of encouraging consistent communication, throughout the learning period, between student and teacher as well as parent and teacher.

As an elementary and secondary student, I always discussed my schooling with my parents, but I know that not all students do the same. In fact, some students actively avoid doing so. However, as Davies emphasizes, communication is a key part in the learning process. I really like the approaches Davies provides to help improve communication between parents and teachers. I like the idea of an open house where students lead the demonstration of their learning. I also like the idea of a class web page with examples and evidence of student learning. Students could be involved in creating these kinds of communication tools, which would support learning through reflection and support computer use in the classroom (what I view as building valuable and real-world relevant skills).

I also, prefer student-led conferences to teacher-led. This belief is supported by the idea that getting students involved helps their learning, but also in personal experiences. In one of my elementary school conferences, I had a teacher ask why we came, because there was little to say (meaning: I didn’t have any problems in school). This didn’t give me a voice to discuss my learning or ideas of areas I could improve in. While in high school, I lead a conference and was able to take responsibility of my learning and express my thoughts on how I can improve. I feel the latter was more beneficial.

When it comes to reporting student achievement, I think the communication piece is still vary important. Because it is a subjective process, it can be very challenging. However, when we consider all of the procedures completed throughout the process, it is easier to reflect and be confident in our professional judgement. That being said, I really like the idea of involving students in this process as well. Davies says to consider asking students if the report makes sense to them, if they feel it reflects what they learned, if it’s fair, and if we missed anything (99). I think this could be a really constructive method. I think, because our goal is to consistently involve students and have them reflect on their learning, asking them such questions would further support this goal.

Elbow, P. 1986. Embracing Contraries: Explorations in Learning and Teaching. New York: Oxford University Press.

Davies, Anne. Making Classroom Assessment Work. 3rd ed. Courtenay, B.C.: Connections Pub., 2011. Print.

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2 thoughts on “Assessment: Communicating, Evaluating, and Reporting

  1. Paige,

    As you have probably read in my blog post, our experiences about communication between parents and teachers are a little different. In my time as a elementary and high school student, the only time a teacher would have a conversation of any substance with a parent is if a child was having trouble with a class. When I was in elementary school parent-teacher conferences were mandatory, but the conversation was never anything deep if a student was successful in school. This is why I really agreed with how Davies spoke about how students should lead conferences about learning with their parents. This gives the students the agency that we want them to have. It allows the student to show off work that they are proud of and to show their parents what they have done in school. As we have talked about in ELANG today, this is a chance for a student to show and not tell their parents about school.
    However, there is one area I cannot recall Davies talking about that I believe is vital for communication in the classroom to be successful. For communication to be successful all parties involved need to care about what is being spoken about. I recall in my previous field placement my co-op teacher being extremely frustrated that she was trying to have open communication with parents only to be met with obstacles along the way. She would tell us about how she wrote emails every week to detail what was being studied that week. This process was supposed to let parents have access to what their children were going to do that week, and to let parents know how they help their child be successful that week. However, many times parents would not read the email or just not really care about what was happening at their child’s school unless there was a test or other assessment coming up. I know it is a little harsh to talk about parents in a negative matter, but sometimes a parent just doesn’t care about what their child is doing at school. So, what I am wondering is what should a teacher do to encourage communication if the parents, or other guardian for that matter, does not want to communicate with the teacher? As we have mentioned before, the parents are a key part in education. So, what can be done to get hesitant parents to have a more active role in the child’s classroom?

    Once again you have produced a great post,
    Jordan Halkyard

  2. Thank you for your thought provoking question, Jordan. I think the first thing we can make sure we do is try to create open communication from the very beginning. Harry Wong says that teachers should get in contact with parents before the first day. This might be a bit much to do before the first day, but I would say in the first week at least. Additionally, I recall a teacher saying that she made sure that the first call was on a positive note. Some parents are only called (some frequently) to be told how there child misbehaved or is doing poorly. We need to make sure parents know there are things to talk about when students are doing well too! However, you’re right, some parents just don’t seem to care about the process. I like the open house option because it’s engaging. I also like the method used in the “Classroom Experiment” video we watched for this class. Parents sat in on the class and got to see what was happening in action. That makes it more engaging and hopefully gets them to buy into the communication we want to set up. Maybe it could be as simple as asking them what would work for them and explaining the rationale. If that doesn’t work just try and try to include them in any way. I’m sure it will be trial and error for us. We may never get some parents to be actively engaged, but we can keep trying.

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