Modern Classroom Assessment
Publication Year: 2014
Subject: Student Assessment (general)
Modern Classroom Assessment offers an applied, student-centered guide to the major research-based approaches to assessment in today's modern classroom. Rather than simply list basic assessment formats with a few examples, as many textbooks do, award-winning professor and scholar Bruce Frey's book fully explores all five key approaches for teacher-designed assessment—Traditional Paper-and-Pencil, Performance-Based Assessment, Formative Assessment, Universal Test Design, and Authentic Assessment —while making abstract concepts and guidelines clear with hundreds of real-world illustrations and examples of what actual teachers do. Offering a variety of engaging learning tools and realistic stories from the classroom, this text will give any reader a strong foundation for designing modern assessments in their own classrooms.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Modern Classroom Assessment
- Chapter 2: The Language of Classroom Assessment
- Chapter 3: Basic Assessment Strategy: Categories of Learning, Objectives, and Backward Design
- Chapter 4: Formative Assessment
- Chapter 5: Summative Assessment: Traditional Paper-and-Pencil Tests
- Chapter 6: Constructed-Response Items and Scoring Rubrics
- Chapter 7: Performance-Based Assessment
- Chapter 8: Authentic Assessment
- Chapter 9: Universal Test Design
- Chapter 10: Test Accommodations
- Chapter 11: Understanding Scores from Classroom Assessments
- Chapter 12: Making the Grade
- Chapter 13: Standardized Tests
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As a college professor and researcher in education, I've used and reviewed dozens of classroom assessment textbooks. Some books cover the basic types and strategies of classroom assessment with a little theory and research thrown in, but don't provide enough concrete examples of what this looks like in today's schools. Other texts are essentially example after example of multiple-choice formats and performance-based assessments, without much guidance about why those examples work or are consistent with theories or research about how students think and learn. I wanted a book that does both. It's always seemed to me that there was a critical need for a book that covers all the major, research-based approaches to student-centered teacher-designed assessment in today's modern world, while also sharing tons of detailed models of what teachers actually do. The goal for Modern Classroom Assessment is to go beyond simply listing the basic assessment formats by exploring five broad up-to-date approaches or philosophies to assessment with the supporting scholarship and theory to guide their appropriate use. Most important, though, my mission in writing this book was to make these sometimes abstract concepts and guidelines clear and practical by including as many real-world illustrations and examples as I could fit between these covers.
The five modern ways of approaching classroom assessment that form the heart of this book include almost everything a teacher needs to know about classroom assessment. These approaches are the following:
Providing frequent feedback directly to students so they can monitor and control their own learning is the only assessment approach that has been found to affect learning and increase test scores. And formative assessment opens up the definition of what classroom assessment is and what its purpose should be. This is not your father's end-of-the-year high stakes exam. This process for collecting and sharing information is a collaboration between students and their teacher and is covered in Chapter 4: Formative Assessment.
Traditional Paper-and-Pencil Assessment
The tried-and-true, efficient, objectively scored approaches to quickly and reliably assessing achievement include multiple-choice questions, matching, true-false, short answer, and combinations of those approaches. In many contexts and for many purposes in the modern classroom, these [Page xvi]approaches fall short of teachers' needs. Sometimes forgotten, however, is that even today these methods often are the best and fairest choice. Chapter 5: Summative Assessment: Traditional Paper-and-Pencil Tests focuses on this still most common of approaches.
Twenty-five years ago, this approach was new and quickly gained popularity. The idea was to go beyond the measurement of low-level knowledge by asking students to perform a skill or create a product and assess student ability. This approach led by necessity to new scoring options, such as the creation of subjective scoring rubrics that increased validity, but it can lead to unique reliability difficulties. Chapter 7: Performance-Based Assessment examines this important approach to classroom assessment.
A current and very modern best practice in the field of classroom assessment is to use assessment tasks that match real-world expectations. This approach increases the usefulness of classroom assessment across all ages—preschool through graduate school to on the job. Assessment that is authentic is intrinsically interesting and focuses on the “important stuff” like critical thinking and transferable skills. Chapter 8: Authentic Assessment is dedicated to realistic assessment.
Universal Design of Assessment
Modern methods of test design emphasize accessibility and fairness for all children, regardless of gender, first language, ethnicity, or disability. Basic standards exist that can and should be applied to classroom assessment in all contexts and at all levels. This book is unique in the focus it provides on universal design of assessment and what it means for the classroom teacher. Chapter 9: Universal Test Design provides that focus.
Supporting the discussion of these five key assessment approaches are several other crucial topics:
A Book for Teachers
- Chapter 3: Basic Assessment Strategy: Categories of Learning, Objectives, and Backward Design provides a smart way for creating effective tests and assignments that work well for any of the broad assessment approaches.
- Chapter 6: Constructed-Response Items and Scoring Rubrics focuses on the design and scoring of complex assessments, assignments, and tasks.
- Chapter 10: Test Accommodations explores what classroom teachers can and should do to make any assessment fairer and its scores more meaningful for individual students. [Page xvii]
- Chapter 11: Understanding Scores From Classroom Assessments and Chapter 13: Standardized Tests handle the heavy lifting by covering the statistical and analytical methods for interpreting student performance. The tricks of the trade for talking about standardized test scores with parents are discussed.
- Chapter 12: Making the Grade presents a variety of philosophies for designing grading systems and assigning that all-important letter grade. How to discuss grades with parents is explored.
Modern Classroom Assessment was planned from the start for the future school teacher. The target audience is the undergraduate college student in a teacher education program. If that's you, I wrote this book with you in mind. If you're an experienced teacher or a graduate student, you'll still find Modern Classroom Assessment to be valuable, though. By design, the book is mostly full of hundreds of applied examples, applications, and authentic illustrations of what modern teachers do and the assessment choices they make, but the examples are always discussed in the context of theory and educational research. So the hope is primarily that you will get clear guidance and ideas about today's best practices in the classroom. It may be that that is all you need. “Just tell me what good teachers do!” It might be, though, that you'd like to know more about the theory or scholarship that supports the claim that a practice is “best.” That's here, too. Perhaps most important, I've tried to provide a richness of detail in our discussions of different formats, purposes, and grand strategies of assessment so you can solve assessment problems and apply the broad assessment approaches emphasized here to the unique specifics of your own classroom and your own students.Special Features
To help foster a depth of understanding about both application and theory in the world of classroom assessment, we have included a variety of unique features in each chapter. These include the following:
Stories From the Classroom
Many chapters begin with a story about a teacher with a problem. Part 1 ends with a cliff-hanger, with Part 2 appearing at the end of the chapter. I hope that by seeing real-world dilemmas with real-world classroom assessment solutions, the meaningful application of that chapter's ideas and suggestions will make a lot more sense. [Page xviii]
These are questions that students may wish to ask their instructor, but for some reason often don't. You can think of these as Frequently Unasked Questions. I've taken the liberty of asking and answering these questions for you!
Real-World Choices Teachers Make
As professionals, classroom teachers routinely make choices among assessment options. They have been trained, know best practice, and often are aware of the theory and research behind some strategy or approach. In the real world, though, even knowing all that sometimes doesn't make the right choice clear. Wherever this section appears, we take a look at the issues and information that help real-world teachers make quality choices.
This feature spotlights computerized, electronic, or web-based resources, which in today's world make assessment easier and more useful.
A Closer Look
Sometimes a theory, study, or idea deserves closer inspection. Rather than slowing down the conversation, I've placed these discussions in their own spaces. They are there for those interested, but can be skipped by you or your instructor. Think of this feature as an HD or high-definition option for a higher resolution picture.
There's a Stat for That!
Scores, item responses, student performance, validity analyses, and reliability estimates all produce numbers. These focused presentations on useful statistical and mathematical procedures are designed to be readable, meaningful, and useful in the real world without expecting students to be statisticians.
Organizational Tools in Each Chapter
Every chapter includes these guideposts and outlines to make it clear what the purpose of each chapter is, what will be covered, and how to think about what you just read:
Think of these as the instructional objectives for each chapter.[Page xix]
Here are the major points in what you're about to read. This section comes at the start of each chapter.
These are reminders of the critical points that we just covered. This section comes at the end of each chapter.
Things to Think About
These are questions for discussion or self-reflection to clarify your own thoughts about the key points in each chapter.
On the Web
A brief list of websites that provides further support, examples, and insights is found at the end of each chapter.
Two websites created especially for Modern Classroom Assessment provide all sorts of free resources to help both teachers and students:
Instructor Teaching Site
A password-protected site, available at www.sagepub.com/frey, features resources that have been designed to help instructors plan and teach their courses. These resources include an extensive test bank, chapter-specific PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes, class activities, sample syllabi for semester and quarter courses, and links to SAGE journal articles with accompanying review questions.
Student Study Site
An open-access study site is available at www.sagepub.com/frey. This site includes eFlashcards, web quizzes, web resources, additional rubrics, and links to SAGE journal articles.
A critical contribution to Modern Classroom Assessment was made by almost two dozen reviewers. To these college professors, experts in classroom assessment, and top teachers, I give my heartfelt thanks for their careful thought, evaluation, and suggestions. Without their input, this book would, quite honestly, not be very good.
[Page xx]I'd especially like to single out among this group my colleague and friend Professor Robert Harrington, whose close consideration of a few key chapters was especially instructive. Thank you, Bob, for your yeoman's work!
A team of SAGE editors provided strong guidance and support during the development of Modern Classroom Assessment. It began with acquisitions editor Diane McDaniel, who thought this book sounded like a good idea. Then Megan Krattli took the ball and ran with it. Theresa Accomazzo finished up, under the guidance of Reid Hester. These four folks are very good at their jobs and have been a pleasure to work with. Thanks, SAGE gang!
Neil Salkind, prolific author and well-respected goofball, helped make this book happen and continues as my friend and guide. Two research assistants helped with some important components of this text. Stephani Howarter and Zach Conrad did all I asked and did it on time. They are both very smart. Thank you.
I'd like to acknowledge the support of my wife, Dr. Bonnie Johnson. As always, I'd have accomplished little in life without her.
Finally, the author and SAGE would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following reviewers:
William Boone, Miami University
Betsy Botts, University of West Florida
Maureen Davin, Bethune Cookman College
Cheryl Van De Mark, University of Central Florida
Debra Dirksen, Western New Mexico University
Carolyn Doolittle, Baker University
Karen Eifler, University of Portland
Robert Ferrera, Notre Dame de Namur University
James Gasparino, Florida Gulf Coast University
Marva Gavins, University of Houston–Clear Lake
Ramona Hall, Cameron University
Martha Jane Harris, Texas A & M University–Texarkana
Susan Hibbard, Florida Gulf Coast University
Adria Karle, Florida International University
Patricia Lutz, Kutztown University
Kathleen Makuch, Wilkes University
Elda E. Martinez, University of The Incarnate Word
Saramma Mathew, Troy University
Nelson Maylone, Eastern Michigan University
David McMullen, Bradley University
Gayle Mindes, DePaul University
Cindi Nixon, Francis Marion University
Judith Presley, Tennessee State University
Germaine Taggart, Fort Hays State University
Jahnette Wilson, University of Houston
Eunmi Yang, Stonehill College
About the Author
Physical and procedural changes in testing conditions, such as a separate room, lighting changes, more time, and so on.
A scoring method that evaluates each of the pieces or steps of a product or performance.
Assessment that includes tasks, content, expectations, and evaluation methods similar to those that are valued outside of the classroom.
The systematic collection of information about students designed, administered, and scored by teachers or students.
A number generally ranging from 0 to 1 indicating the level of internal reliability for a group of test items. The closer to 1, the higher the reliability.
The invisible trait that one wishes to assess. Pronounced CON-struct. In the classroom, constructs are typically knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes, traits, and so on. In the broader world of educational and psychological measurement, constructs include things like intelligence, depression, learning disabilities, aptitude, and personality.
The broadest category of validity. A construct validity argument is that performance on the assessment reflects the underlying knowledge, skill, or trait that one intends to measure.
Assessment tasks that ask students to create a complex written answer or a complex, frequently creative, product.
A content validity argument is that the items on a test are a fair and representative sample of the items that could or should be on the test. For example, teachers may have a well-defined set of instructional objectives that an assessment should cover.
Content Validity Ratio:
A number ranging from 0 to 1 that indicates the extent to which an item is essential when covering a particular topic.
A criterion validity argument is that performance on an assessment is related to scores on another assessment in a way that makes sense.
An approach to score interpretation that judges performance against some criterion (such as instructional objectives, percentage of points possible, and so on).
A type of validity argument that provides evidence that the scores on one test correlate with the scores on some other measure.
Specific scores that define categories of performance.
A scoring system with only two possible scores.
[Page 354]Difficulty Index:
The proportion of students who answered a question correctly.
A set of scores and their associated frequencies.
Numbers that represent the strength of relationships between variables. Effect sizes are used in educational research to judge, for example, the effectiveness of an instructional approach.
Feedback Intervention Theory:
A theory suggesting that formative assessment feedback is most effective when it is narrowly focused on specific tasks and behaviors related to success and least effective when it is broad (such as “Good work!”).
Feedback produced while learning is occurring and concepts and knowledge bases are still being developed. It allows students and teachers to modify their behaviors and understanding before instruction has ended.
Categories of quality or performance placed in some meaningful order.
A set of rules for assigning letter grades based on points or performance.
Consistency in scores within the various items on a test.
Consistency in scores between two different scorers or raters.
A level of measurement with equal intervals in meaning between any two adjacent scores.
Item Difficulty Index:
The proportion of students getting a question right. Technically, it's the average score from a single item. Calculated by dividing the number of students who got an item correct by the total number of student who took an assessment.
Item Discrimination Index:
A number indicating how well a single item discriminates between high scorers on a test and low scorers.
The number of points a student received for a single question or assessment task.
Level of Measurement:
The amount of information provided by a given scoring format. There are four levels, with nominal, where numbers are used only as names for categories, as the least informative and ratio, where scores represent equally spaced quantities and there are no possible scores below 0, as the most informative.
The arithmetic average. Calculated by adding all the scores together and dividing by the number of scores in the distribution.
The score right in the middle of a distribution. 50% of scores are greater; 50% are lesser.
The most commonly occurring score in a distribution.
Changes made for an individual student in a test in order to increase validity for that student. For example, a different version might be used, or there may be different directions.
A level of measurement with numbers being used only as names or labels, not as quantities.
An approach to understanding scores by comparing scores with each other. The information in a score comes from referencing what is normal.
[Page 355]Normal Curve:
A very common shape of the distribution of scores. If one graphs a moderate number of scores from almost any assessment with the scores in order along the X axis and the frequency of the scores placed along the Y axis, then the distribution tends to be symmetrical around the mean with most scores close to the mean and very few scores far from the mean.
A common scoring system where students get a point for each correct answer.
A scoring system where no judgment is involved in assigning a score. If a computer can do the scoring, it is an objective scoring system (e.g., multiple-choice tests).
A level of measurement where numbers are used to show some ranking (such as listing students in order of their performance) but there is not an expectation that the intervals between ranks are equal.
A common scoring system that indicates the percentage of points possible that a student received. Most commonly it is the percentage of questions answered correctly.
The percentage of students scoring at or below a given score.
An approach to assessment that requires students to perform or produce something for evaluation. It is most commonly used to assess a skill or ability.
Primary Trait Approach:
A common approach to scoring performance-based assessment that involves the identification of a few major constructs or traits and then judging the level of each.
In a distribution, the distance between the highest score and the lowest score.
A level of measurement that includes the characteristics of interval level measurement, with the extra requirement that there is a “true zero”; one can literally have none of the trait of interest. No negative numbers are used in ratio scoring.
The actual scores that students receive on a test. They have not been altered or standardized.
Consistency and precision in scores. Scores that are very close to what a student would typically receive on a given test are reliable.
A written set of scoring rules, often in the form of a table. They provide guidance for the assignment of scores.
An item format where the answer is provided to students and they must select it or indicate it (such as multiple-choice or matching items).
Students who are self-managing, self-monitoring, and selfmodifying.
A score that had been modified from a raw score using known, standardized rules. Usually, standardized scores provide information on where a student performed in terms of standard deviations above or below the mean.
A test that is administered in a standard way. Sometimes the term is reserved only for large-scale [Page 356]“official” high-stakes tests that produce standardized scores.
Areas under a normal curve that has been sliced into nine convenient roughly equal levels of performance. The term is short for standard nines.
Scoring systems that require some human judgment.
Scores of groups of items within a larger assessment that are focused on a single domain, skill, or trait.
An assessment approach with the goal of summarizing student performance at the end of a period of instruction. Grades are usually assigned based on summative assessments.
An item format where the correct answer is not provided; students must supply it.
A standardized score with a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10.
Table of Specifications:
Typically, a matrix with columns and rows that provides guidance as to the nature of the items which should appear on a test in terms of content, for example, or level of Bloom's Taxonomy. These tables form the blueprint for an assessment.
A type of consistency in scores that are stable across time.
Traditional Paper-and-Pencil Assessment:
Very popular, efficient, objectively scored approach to assessment (such as multiple-choice questions, matching, true-false, fill-in-the-blank, and some short answer formats).
The design of products and environments to be usable in a meaningful and similar way by all people.
Universal Test design:
An approach to test design that emphasizes accessibility and fairness for all children, regardless of gender, first language, ethnicity, or disability.
The characteristic of an assessment that measures what it is supposed to measure. Supposed means that the assessment measures what you assume it does, and it also means that the assessment measures what it is intended to measure.
A standardized score that transforms a raw score by subtracting the mean from it and then dividing by the standard deviation of the score's distribution. Z scores have a mean of 0 and a standard deviation of 1.