Welcome to lesson 8! This is the final lesson for this course and it is very fitting that assessments and evaluation tools are going to be the main area of focus. I am sure that as you have gone through this course that you have stopped and informally evaluated your own learning by asking yourself comprehension questions (Did I understand what I just read? Can I apply what I am learning to my own teaching practice?) You are then formally assessed with an achievement exam that allows me, your course facilitator, to evaluate your overall understanding of the subject matter. Whether you realize it or not, evaluations and assessments are being used constantly to reassure the individual (you) and others (such as your teacher) that a particular skill or concept has been mastered. Here are some statements you will want to think about as you read and perhaps even use to evaluate your overall understanding of this lesson. See if you can summarize the function of assessments in music and movement, use the NAEYC and NAAECS/SDE position statement on assessments, demonstrate ethical conduct when evaluating children, create different types of assessment in movement and music that enhance emotional well-being and participation of children, and examine the Guiding Principles in order to create assessments.
If you are new to education one of the most popular catch phrases you will hear when walking into a school is implementing “data driven instruction.” What does this mean and how will this affect you as a teacher? Data driven instruction is instruction that is based upon achievement rates of students. This data is then used to guide the teacher on what skills and concepts need to be taught in the classroom. Data driven instruction may guide a teacher on how to group students in the classroom during centers or how to differentiate instruction. You are probably thinking to yourself, “Data driven instruction will not affect me because I am going to be teaching movement and music.” Think again. In today’s educational world every subject, every concept, can be assessed and evaluated whether informally (teacher observation) or formally (national and state standardized tests). Just to give you an overview, the school where I teach regroups students every six to eight weeks based on student data. Luckily, this lesson will focus on how to create and implement assessments and evaluations consistently, effectively, and hopefully without too much pain.
When creating or implementing an assessment you will want to ask yourself the following four questions. Is this assessment reliable? Is this assessment valid? Is this assessment culturally and linguistically appropriate? Is this assessment meeting the needs of the student and the family? If an assessment is reliable, a teacher could give the test several times and get the same results each time. If an assessment is valid then it is measuring the concept or skill intended to be measured. If an assessment is culturally and linguistically appropriate then it is considerate of a child’s culture and language acquisition levels. If an assessment is meeting the needs of the family, then the child’s family understands why the assessment is being implemented and its importance to learning.
Another very important topic in this lesson is ethical conduct. Teachers need to make sure that assessments and evaluations are given ethically and that a child’s overall well-being is the top priority. The NAEYC developed a position statement on the Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment. This code ensures that an assessment or evaluation is used in order to benefit the child and provide guidance for the teacher and child in relation to learning development. Needless to say, a child’s assessments are confidential. They should only be shared with the student (if the concern is appropriate for the child to know), the family, and members of the school who have a direct impact on the child’s educational programming. In the supplementary resource section, I have provided you with a link to the NAEYC website. This link will take you directly to the position statement. You will want to review the position statement for your own knowledge because you never know when you will need this information in the future (perhaps even for a job interview).
Know that you are aware of the code of conduct that is used with giving assessments; we are ready to discuss different types of assessments. I have already mentioned informal (teacher observation, practice sheets, and homework) and formal (state tests and end of unit exams) assessments. However, these assessments can be summative or formative. Summative assessments usually happen at the end of teaching a concept or unit. For example, when students complete the chapter on dinosaurs, the teacher will give an end of chapter test that covers all the concepts the students learned about locomotor movements (walking, leaping, and running). However, a formative assessment is used when a teacher is finished teaching a specific concept in the overarching theme (a quiz on proper running formation or an activity on running at a certain speed). The results of the formative assessment are then used to help influence the teacher’s instruction and teaching strategies for each individual student. I know from past experiences that a formative assessment is more of a reflection of my own teaching. It acts as a yield sign as if letting me know if it is okay for me to move on to a new concept or if I need to take a step back and revisit a specific skill in order for the students to be successful. You will find that many of the assessments you give in music and movement will be performance based. Therefore, you will need to create rubrics that indicate a child’s mastery. When rubrics are used effectively it takes the subjectivity out of assessing and replaces it with objectivity.
There are many types of assessments and ways to evaluate your students. However, I have just a few words of wisdom I have learned from my own experiences: do not over assess your students, but assess your students meaningfully and with knowledge of how you will utilize the data from the assessment to benefit the whole child.
You have done an excellent job in this course through much perseverance and determination on your part. I know great things await you. As you near graduation, I would like to leave you with the inspiring words of Margaret Fuller—“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.”
You now have the knowledge. As you go out into your chosen field, do not be afraid to let others light their candles at your flame of knowledge. You have a lot to offer!
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