Saturday, November 15, 2008

Are Formative Assessments "testing"?

Do you see "formative assessments" as testing? While I do believe that testing (standardized testing as we know it) is not necessarily beneficial for students I don’t see all assessments that way. When I do formative assessments, I tell my classes upfront that they will have a test but that it is not a test that they can pass or fail. I don’t like to use the word test either. I tell them we are doing a survey, we play games where correct information location gets a prize, and we do evaluations of websites (the students do the evaluations themselves, if they can do this they are a step ahead). Every once in a while I switch up the evaluation tools and have the students assess the tools themselves. Sometimes I tell them they are my guinea pigs and that I will be asking them to evaluate themselves and what they learned. During the research process I have them do a daily journal along with a checklist of where they are in the process. The journal part asks 3 things: What went right that day, what they are having problems with, and where do they go from here, their next step. I don’t see these assessments as the same thing as “testing.” Yet, it informs me of their progress. As a librarian I want to create lifelong learners and no standardized test is going to create a lifelong learner. But, a strategically placed “formative assessment” can be the spur that some students need to progress on the road toward lifelong learning.
Just my thoughts.

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