Have you ever been afraid to test your students? I’ve been sitting on this post for a while (since the beginning of September). I have been nervous to post this because it might break the facade of my “perfect CI classroom” or my “perfect teaching abilities.” I mean, I present at conferences like someone who knows everything, but no one knows everything and no one is a perfect teacher. In the spirit of a teacher who is learning new things all the time, I present this post about the first test I’ve given in 5 years.
Confession Time: My summative assessment game is weak.
My formative assessment game is pretty strong. I have spent 5 years using Timed Writings, Free Writes, Comics, Summaries, Presentation Projects, and lots of informal observation to assess my students and it’s gone pretty well–I have always had a pretty good idea where my students are in their proficiency. That being said, I haven’t given a “test” since I started using TPRS in Fall, 2014.
To tell the truth, I’d been scared to test them because I was afraid test results would show that I was wrong about where they are in their proficiency. I was afraid that a more formal assessment would show that they are making few gains in their proficiency. I was afraid that I wasn’t doing as good a job as I thought I should and I didn’t want there to be hard evidence of it.
But fear didn’t stop me from overhauling my curriculum and it has never stopped me from trying a new method or type of activity, so I decided to do it. I researched CI assessments and found lots of information, but the one that ended up working out was Señora Chase’s Celebration of Knowledge.
This assessment fit exactly what I needed to do: See what the students are able to do with the language they have. The students have to show what they understand (in the listening- and reading-comprehension sections) and what they are able to produce (in the writing section).
So I adapted the template to fit my students and had them take it. I told them to study all the stories we have read and the write-and-discuss paragraphs we’ve written to familiarize themselves with the vocabulary and structures we have used throughout the first month of the year.
And then they took it…And I was nervous…
When I got the tests back and started grading them, it turns out that my fears were unfounded. All of the students I have taught for several years are well in the novice-high range (the highest level I assessed) and most of the newer students are in the novice-mid range.
More importantly than me facing my fears about whether or not I’m a good teacher, the assessment gave the students a better idea about their proficiency level. They can look to the assessment and see where they stand what they need to be able to do to move along the proficiency path.