What is formative assessment

You know how it is, you try to blog once a week. You put it off during the week, because it is busy and you just don’t have time. Then Friday comes around and you put it off till Saturday, then Saturday is busy and you put it off till Sunday. The next thing you know it’s two weeks later.

 

I’d like to start a conversation with the 12 people who might read my blog, the 6 who read it through facebook, the random looks from G+, and the two who scan the title on twitter. If you wouldn’t mind chiming in.

 

Here’s my question, “Are multiple choice tests formative?”

 

My team and I, we write these CFA’s (common formative assessments) every week or two. they are the basis of the grades (Which is a question I’d like to ignore for now). The problem is we give them basically at the end of the teaching so they are really summative, though we often find we need to reteach.

 

We are planning a new unit next week and were given the green light to go more standards based grading. I thought it would be a good time to suggest that we move these questions around a bit more. We can ask them to warm ups, one-on-one conversations, exit slips, homework assignments, etc…
Then it occurred to me, are multiple choice tests ever formative? Can I use the right or wrong answers to inform my teaching?

Teaching to the Standards

Teaching some would say it is an art. Some would claim it can be measured quantitatively. Here is an example of, I don’t know what? I think it is a person trying to teach teachers how to teach a common core standard.

From the website SouthEast Comprehensive Center SEDL site. (I think SEDL stands for Southwest Educational Development Laboratory)

SEDL‘s mission is to strengthen the connections among research, policy, and practice in order to improve outcomes for all learners.

So is this a good example of connecting research and policy to actual practice?

 

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Struggle

The new common core emphasizes the ability to “persevere” in learning.

CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

Mathematically proficient students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. They analyze givens, constraints, relationships, and goals. They make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution. They monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary. Older students might, depending on the context of the problem, transform algebraic expressions or change the viewing window on their graphing calculator to get the information they need. Mathematically proficient students can explain correspondences between equations, verbal descriptions, tables, and graphs or draw diagrams of important features and relationships, graph data, and search for regularity or trends. Younger students might rely on using concrete objects or pictures to help conceptualize and solve a problem. Mathematically proficient students check their answers to problems using a different method, and they continually ask themselves, “Does this make sense?” They can understand the approaches of others to solving complex problems and identify correspondences between different approaches.

 

Carol Dweck says, how we think matters. We can have a “fixed” or a “growth” mindset. We can either believe we are stuck with the brains we have or we can believe in our ability to learn.


In education we can decide that learning is “fixed” or depends on how much we are willing to work for it. We can decide to emphasize and celebrate students who struggle as they do in Japan or we can hope for enough smart people to be born.

What will your choice be?

 

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