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3 Principles to Follow for Competency-Based Education | GOA - 1 views

  • When it comes to competency-based learning (CBL), we must tend to our school cultures as deeply and thoughtfully as we tend to our classrooms.
  • Adopting CBL means more than a shift in pedagogy; it means committing to a mindset and system that prioritize learning over time, skills over content, and relevant, holistic assessment over high-stakes testing.
  • To build this culture, they focus on three essential elements.
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  • 1. Learning is a Positive, Inclusive Experience
  • Students set and pursue individualized learning goals and have in-person and online academic support options.
  • Reassessment is an academic norm.
  • Students pursue their passions.
  • Conflict resolution is built on restorative justice, not traditional disciplinary techniques.
  • 2. Students Lead Learning
  • A common thread: Culture and program should be deeply connected, specifically in how communities support student agency.
  • Every student and adult in the community creates, pursues, and updates a Learning Plan; every student has an advisor; and public exhibitions of learning that involve school and community members are the standard summative assessments.
  • 3. Professional Culture is the Foundation of School Culture
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NAIS - One School's Approach to Equitable Grading - 1 views

  • a student’s grade could be more reflective of the teacher’s approach to grading than the student’s academic performance.
  • because many of the teachers’ grading practices rewarded or punished students for every assignment, activity, and behavior in the classroom, students often were less willing to take risks and make mistakes, and cared less about learning
  • But Previna didn’t blame the teachers. After all, none of them—herself included—had ever received any training or support with how to grade
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  • She started by sharing a few articles about the weaknesses of common grading practices with the entire middle school faculty
  • Then she invited all faculty to research, examine, and imagine ways to align grading to their vision for progressive and equitable education
  • first learned how many common grading practices were created during the Industrial Revolution and are based on century-old beliefs about teaching, learning, and human potential that have long since been debunked. By continuing to use these practices, we contradict our current understanding about effective teaching and learning
  • After studying the research about grading and learning about research-supported grading practices that are more accurate, more bias-resistant, and develop intrinsic motivation in students, the pilot group of middle school faculty members was excited to start using them. These more equitable practices included using alternatives to the 0–100 scale, not including behavior in the grade, ending extra credit, using rubrics, and developing a culture of retakes and redos
  • Students were less stressed, and classroom environments felt more relaxed and supportive of learning.
  • Grade inflation decreased
  • Grades are more accurate and less biased
  • Students’ motivation increased
  • Changes to grading practices leverage other aspects of programmatic reimagining
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Do historians miss the ideals of assessment, as some have suggested? - 0 views

  • Grading Smarter, Not Harder
  • Their recent finding that many students don’t learn critical thinking in undergraduate history courses -- a challenge to history’s sales pitch that its graduates are finely tuned critical thinkers.
  • A panel of professors here urged a sizable crowd of colleagues to embrace not just grades but formative, ongoing assessment to gauge student learning or lack thereof in real(er) time.
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  • LASER, an acronym for Love history, Acquire and analyze information, Solve difficult problems, Envision new explanations, and Reveal what you know. Sourcing work, which Calder called a “threshold concept” in history, means asking students to evaluate the reliability of various historical texts. Who made it? When? Why? What value does it hold for historians, if any?
  • letter grades “do little to differentiate the level of student effort or the quality of student work or student growth over the course of a semester or program,”
  • to the idea of “transparency,” which they all agreed begins with articulating clear student learning goals -- for themselves and their classes.
  • Whatever the activity or assessment, Mintz said it needs to be aligned with a particular learning objective. Research suggests that the most effective activities and assessments when it comes to student learning are considered “authentic,” or those that mirror professional practice and address some meaningful question,
  • Project and performance-based assessments are much more likely to provide a “valid measure of student proficiencies and higher-order thinking skills than are multiple choice or short-answer questions,” Mintz continued. And evaluation needs to be based on a detailed rubric, he said, suggesting that students may help create these rubrics.
  • But “a paradigm shift is occurring in higher education,” Mintz said. “We all know this. We’re sifting from teaching to learning, shifting from a sink-or-swim mentality to a mentality where we have obligation to bring all students to minimum viable level of competency.” That is regardless of institution type, he said.
  • think of themselves as "learning architects" whose meaningful "forward-looking" assessment will be a "true learning opportunity" for students.
  •  
    HT @cmtbasecamp
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Six Fixes for Proficiency-Based Learning « Competency Works - 0 views

  • Proficiency-based learning, at its core, is about redesigning the learning and teaching system of America. Instead of basing learning on how much time a student spends, it bases learning on what students can demonstrate—exactly the same as every other system students will encounter in the world outside of school.
  • In addition, schools should continue to share information pertaining to course grades and start to share information regarding student attainment of specific standards, including course-crossing skills such as problem solving, creativity, and analysis. While we would recommend that the course grades continue to use A-F or 0-100 scales, shifting to a 1-4 scale on the standards probably provides better insight for everyone involved. In this way, parents, students, and educators will know how students are doing within the structures of a class and how students are doing in regard to specific standards. This both/and approach will provide more information that can then be used to promote better learning.
  • Keep cohorts of kids together as they progress through their learning. Teachers can vary the learning strategies for various cohorts of students, supporting some students to dig deeper into various standards while others realize initial achievement—and then bringing everyone back together again to start the next unit of learning. Further, as research on learning has demonstrated, learning is a social endeavor, not meant to be undertaken alone. A cohort model supports this research.
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  • Hold students accountable to key and important standards, designating a small handful of “graduation standards” while using the other standards in the Common Core or various state standards to develop curriculum, guide instruction, and build classroom assessments. This strategy focuses learning on key and endurable concepts, skills, and themes; ensures that instructional support is targeted at the most important learning; and pushes students to think about and analyze ideas deeply rather than memorize an unwieldly number of discrete facts.
  • Educators need to clearly define top levels of performance and provide explicit expectations and opportunities for students to achieve these levels of learning. While we should not expect students to “exceed” standards in all cases, educators should require students to do so in areas of particular interest and aptitude for students.
  • Schools must establish both incentives and consequences for critical work habits such as time management and meeting deadlines. Rather than ignore these, they must teach, model, assess, and report them separately and eliminate the practice of controlling behavior by reducing grades. We have seen numerous effective strategies where late work requires coming in after school, not attending co-curricular activities, or mandatory guided study halls, to name a few examples.
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The Art of Reflection | Edutopia - 0 views

  • Portfolios allow students to regularly reflect on their learning process—deepening their connection to content.
  • For portfolios to be truly valuable to both students and teachers, they need to provide insight into not only what students created as a representation of their learning, but also how and why they created it. If the ultimate goal is to develop students as learners,  they need an opportunity to make connections to the content as well as the overarching learning objectives.
  • “By capturing student learning progress and performance in the moment… we can bring learning to life.”
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  • Progress and Performance Portfolios
  • students can curate a body of work that represents their progress as well as their performance to show their thinking throughout their learning experiences.
  • when we encourage students to capture their thinking on a daily basis, reflection is no longer merely a task at the end of a project.
  • Teachers can also leverage visible thinking routines to scaffold student reflection.
  • As educators, our challenge is ensuring that students have an opportunity to engage in reflection such that they create a meaningful product to actually visit (and learn from) again and again.
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What IS the difference between competencies and standards? | reDesign - 2 views

  • Competencies, on the other hand, tend to emphasize the application of skills, knowledge and dispositions rather than content knowledge.
  • Competency-based models approach content as the backdrop, while putting essential skills and dispositions front and center. In this way, content serves as the context for practicing and demonstrating “transferable” competencies that can be applied in different contexts.
  • In competency-based models, the entire system must change. Students advance upon mastery  when they are ready, not when an arbitrary academic calendar suggests that they should be.
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  • Optimally, competencies are broad enough that student pathways and demonstrations of proficiency can be vastly different, organized to encourage and nurture student passions and questions.
  • Competencies sit above standards in terms of grain size.
  • competencies tend to encompass an interrelated set of skills, knowledge, aptitudes, and/or capacities.
  • competencies are often constructed as groupings of related skills or attributes that are purposefully designed to be explicit, measurable, transferable, and empowering to students
  • Competencies define skills that are practiced and developed continuously. They are not “one and done,” like many standards, which are course-based and attached to specific grade levels or bands.
  • in truly competency-based systems, PLDs are not attached to specific grade levels
  • we believe strongly that we must guard against tying PLDs to age-based grades or cohorts.
  • PLDs are guideposts to mastery
  • When learning outcomes are defined in terms of the application of skills or the synthesis and creation of new knowledge, we’re then talking about a much more sophisticated assessment type
  • competence is about successful application of skills and knowledge to achieve a particular purpose, not simply to show basic levels of understanding
  • In a true competency-based system, students can’t fail. Instead, students receive concrete and specific feedback on their work, and are provided with opportunities for additional practice and support in order to develop and demonstrate growth in their competencies.
  • Mastery-based grading and promotion policies are radically different in competency-based systems because promotion is based on mastery of specific skills, not on completion of courses made up of arbitrary and highly varied bundles of content, skills, and concepts.
  • As competency-based education gains ground in formal K-12 schooling, there is a very real chance that the movement could lose the “spirit” of its intent and become yet another, albeit more refined, form of standards-based learning
  • In competency-based models, performance level descriptors (PLDs) clarify the developmental journey from novice-to-expert or to "mastery."
  • Quite differently, competency-based models reach back centuries, with early apprenticeship learning that created pathways for mastery and gainful employment. Think: Medieval craft guilds, masonry, baking, carpentry, shoemaking.
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How Good Is Good Enough? - Educational Leadership - 0 views

  • Mastery is effective transfer of learning in authentic and worthy performance. Students have mastered a subject when they are fluent, even creative, in using their knowledge, skills, and understanding in key performance challenges and contexts at the heart of that subject, as measured against valid and high standards
  • Wooden described his overall method like this: "I tried to teach according to the whole–part method. I would show them the whole thing to begin with. Then I'm going to break it down into the parts and work on the individual parts and then eventually bring them together"
  • The constant process of bringing the parts back together in complex performance is what's routinely missing from many so-called mastery learning programs.
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  • Regardless of what particular solution we come up with for linking local grades to wider-world standards, this must be our motto: No surprises; complete transparency as to where the student stands in terms of performance.
  • This is the crux of the matter: how to set school-level standards (and give grades, scores, or judgments in relation to them) in terms of valid external standards. If local tests are less rigorous than state and national tests, and if teachers' scoring and grading of student work reflect only local norms and not wider-world standards, then the school is not standards-based.
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The Case Against Grades (##) - Alfie Kohn - 2 views

  • Collecting information doesn’t require tests, and sharing that information doesn’t require grades.  In fact, students would be a lot better off without either of these relics from a less enlightened age.
  • As I’ve reported elsewhere (Kohn, 1999a, 1999b, 1999c), when students from elementary school to college who are led to focus on grades are compared with those who aren’t, the results support three robust conclusions:
  • Grades tend to diminish students’ interest in whatever they’re learning.
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  • Grades create a preference for the easiest possible task.
  • Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking. 
  • For example, a grade-oriented environment is associated with increased levels of cheating (Anderman and Murdock, 2007), grades (whether or not accompanied by comments) promote a fear of failure even in high-achieving students (Pulfrey et al., 2011), and the elimination of grades (in favor of a pass/fail system) produces substantial benefits with no apparent disadvantages in medical school (White and Fantone, 2010).
  • Extrinsic motivation, which includes a desire to get better grades, is not only different from, but often undermines, intrinsic motivation, a desire to learn for its own sake (Kohn 1999a). 
  • Achievement:  Two educational psychologists pointed out that “an overemphasis on assessment can actually undermine the pursuit of excellence” (Maehr and Midgley, 1996, p. 7). 
  • There is certainly value in assessing the quality of learning and teaching, but that doesn’t mean it’s always necessary, or even possible, to measure those things — that is, to turn them into numbers.  Indeed, “measurable outcomes may be the least significant results of learning” (McNeil, 1986, p. xviii)
  • Once we’re compelled to focus only on what can be reduced to numbers, such as how many grammatical errors are present in a composition or how many mathematical algorithms have been committed to memory, thinking has been severely compromised.  And that is exactly what happens when we try to fit learning into a four- or five- or (heaven help us) 100-point scale.
  • Portfolios, for example, can be constructive if they replace grades rather than being used to yield them.  They offer a way to thoughtfully gather a variety of meaningful examples of learning for the students to review.  But what’s the point, “if instruction is dominated by worksheets so that every portfolio looks the same”? (Neill et al. 1995, p. 4).
  • It’s not enough to replace letters or numbers with labels (“exceeds expectations,” “meets expectations,” and so on).  If you’re sorting students into four or five piles, you’re still grading them.  Rubrics typically include numbers as well as labels, which is only one of several reasons they merit our skepticism (Wilson, 2006; Kohn, 2006).
  • It’s not enough to disseminate grades more efficiently — for example, by posting them on-line.  There is a growing technology, as the late Gerald Bracey once remarked, “that permits us to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn’t be doing at all” (quoted in Mathews, 2006).  In fact, posting grades on-line is a significant step backward because it enhances the salience of those grades and therefore their destructive effects on learning.
  • It’s not enough to add narrative reports.  “When comments and grades coexist, the comments are written to justify the grade” (Wilson, 2009, p. 60).  Teachers report that students, for their part, often just turn to the grade and ignore the comment, but “when there’s only a comment, they read it,”
  • It’s not enough to use “standards-based” grading.
  • Sometimes it’s only after grading has ended that we realize just how harmful it’s been.
  • To address one common fear, the graduates of grade-free high schools are indeed accepted by selective private colleges and large public universities — on the basis of narrative reports and detailed descriptions of the curriculum (as well as recommendations, essays, and interviews), which collectively offer a fuller picture of the applicant than does a grade-point average.  Moreover, these schools point out that their students are often more motivated and proficient learners, thus better prepared for college, than their counterparts at traditional schools who have been preoccupied with grades.
  • Even when administrators aren’t ready to abandon traditional report cards, individual teachers can help to rescue learning in their own classrooms with a two-pronged strategy to “neuter grades,” as one teacher described it.  First, they can stop putting letter or number grades on individual assignments and instead offer only qualitative feedback.
  • Second, although teachers may be required to submit a final grade, there’s no requirement for them to decide unilaterally what that grade will be.  Thus, students can be invited to participate in that process either as a negotiation (such that the teacher has the final say) or by simply permitting students to grade themselves.
  • Without grades, “I think my relationships with students are better,” Drier says.  “Their writing improves more quickly and the things they learn stay with them longer.
  • Drier’s final grades are based on students’ written self-assessments, which, in turn, are based on their review of items in their portfolios. 
  • A key element of authentic assessment for these and other teachers is the opportunity for students to help design the assessment and reflect on its purposes — individually and as a class. 
  • Grades don’t prepare children for the “real world” — unless one has in mind a world where interest in learning and quality of thinking are unimportant.  Nor are grades a necessary part of schooling, any more than paddling or taking extended dictation could be described that way.  Still, it takes courage to do right by kids in an era when the quantitative matters more than the qualitative, when meeting (someone else’s) standards counts for more than exploring ideas, and when anything “rigorous” is automatically assumed to be valuable.  We have to be willing to challenge the conventional wisdom, which in this case means asking not how to improve grades but how to jettison them once and for all.
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    HT @tedwards
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Reasons to Stop Using Rewards and Punishments in the Classroom - 1 views

  • How can we ask our students to take charge of their learning and think for themselves when we are using carrots and sticks to control their behavior?
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A More Complete Picture of Student Learning | Edutopia - 0 views

  • I’m really excited to see that educators are clear about the use of formative and summative assessment.
  • At the same time, by naming assessments, we may be falling into a trap of being too rigid.
  • Our current assessments are geared toward reporting on mastery—often what the grade measures—rather than learning. But we could create assessments that value the learning along the way. Such a system would record not just quizzes, tests, written work, and presentations, but also exit tickets, and even conversations between student and teacher.
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  • Instead of being rigid, we should be able to change the purpose and use of an assessment in order to meet the needs of our students.
  • It’s important to remember that assessments and their purpose can change.
  • student learning as a photo album or a body of evidence rather than as one or the other of two things, either formative or summative.
  • Assessment should be more like a photo album, capturing many moments of learning.
  • A photo album is celebratory and powerful, and assessment should be the same.
  • As the teachers I work with plan units, I encourage them to not be tied down to rigid structures of assessment.
  • Consider the idea of a body of evidence. When we focus on a body of evidence, we don’t have to limit ourselves to a set number of assessments.
  • So students might have different numbers of assessments.
  • Here are some questions to reflect upon as we consider this approach to assessment:How can students generate their own assessment tasks? Where can I be flexible in using assessments to report on student learning? Can I use a variety of types of assessment to create an album of student learning? Can I rely on a body of evidence rather than a set number of assessments? How can I report on the most current data of my students? How should I communicate this approach to parents and students?
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Feedback In Lieu of Grades - LiveBinder HT @JoyKirr - 0 views

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    Joy Kirr's incredible collection of inquiry/research around feedback as a replacement for grades.
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