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Assessment Methods: Easy For You or Best For Them?

Assessment Methods: Easy For You or Best For Them?

There are too many variables that can cause an incorrect view of a child’s ability based on one number – the child bubbles haphazardly because he/she is bored, the child just happens to luck up and choose the right answer, the child is sick, the child is thinking about going to mall or the playground, the child and his/her mother were kicked out of their home the night before, or the scores are undermined by certain formulas and other machinations by the state department of education that causes student to appear to be meeting grade level standards when they are actually performing far below standards.

All the above results in too many students placed in remedial reading programs or too many remedial kids NOT placed within the programs they need. After a period of several weeks to even months most kids eventually get to the right situation for them, but by then precious time has elapsed.

It just seems to me that instead of basing need for particular services on one test score it would better serve the child to maintain and use portfolios that contain student work samples from across the content areas. When samples are taken on an ongoing basis, when a school system has created a system wide procedure for the creation and maintenance of a portfolio, and when periodic reviews are completed of the samples by the grade level team it is almost always glaringly clear where the student resides academically. Problem areas leap out at you from particular content areas to strengths and weaknesses across the curriculum. From this information a game plan to tackle certain problems can be formulated, and time is not wasted on areas where no help is needed.

But what do I know? I’m just the teacher – the teacher who is with the child every day observing him or her, making notes, strategizing with team members, setting goals with the child, and gathering input from parents.

Many of my colleagues are quick to state that portfolios are time consuming, and that they place too much burden on the backs of teachers, but I ask you to think about this…who are we there in the classroom to serve? Are we there to make things easier for us, or are we there to serve the best interest for each and every student?


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