Learners/Students


Learning Loss: How to Assess It? How to Address It?

Learning Loss Data: Stanford University’s CREDO (Center for Research on Education Outcomes) has released a study based on NWEA (MAP assessment) data on 20 states.

In their report they conclude with four Implications: First, the learning losses chilling.
Second, new approaches will be needed.
Third, diagnostic assessment and frequent progress checks are needed more than ever.
Fourth, the assessments needed exceed local capabilities and should be provided nationally for all.

Report: “Estimates of Learning Loss in 2019-2000 School Year” CREDO VIDEO. CBS VIDEO

Educators and families across the country are observing and predicting learning loss in academics and social emotional learning losses as well. But what is our best course– is it to spend some of the prized limited school days on testing? During the pandemic, voices have been raised by educators, administrators, and families asking to postpone testing given the added pressure it can put on already stressed students and schools.

Nov 2020 Edweek article “States Push to Ditch or Downplay Standardized Tests During Virus Surge 2020” reflects those concerns.

“At the end of the day, there’s going to be an asterisk around any 2020-21 [test] results if they’re given,” Stephen Pruitt of the Southern Regional Education Board told our colleague Sarah D. Sparks in July.
Even more than an asterisk, the pandemic should underscore that the traditional standardized tests mandated by federal law simply haven’t worked as desiged, and push the Biden administration and others to rethink the entire system, said Joshua Starr, the CEO of PDK International, a professional association of educators.
“This is the time to actually challenge the assumption that the state testing regimes will give us what we want,” said Starr. “I have no confidence that state standardized tests this year will do that. I don’t know that they’ve ever done that, and they certainly won’t do it this year.”
While Starr said that formative assessments, for example, could be useful to students and educators. But he said that in general, given the pandemic’s clear and disproportionate impact on underserved students and communities, education leaders should move straight into directing more resources and support to students and families in need, without depending on tests to do so.
The ability of tests to discern trend lines in a typical fashion has also been disrupted beyond the point of being useful, including for accountability, said Daniel Koretz, a research professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who focuses on assessments. And more broadly, he said, potential disruptions for students at home and other factors unique to the pandemic present an environment that tests simply can’t control for.

Edweek

An NEA article urges that we “Cancel Standardized Tests During COVID-19”
They write and ask us to sign a letter to the U.S. E.D.

American students are still navigating the most difficult year of learning in modern history. Between losing loved ones to COVID-19, being forced out of classrooms, adapting to distance learning, and missing out on a year of regular social interactions – they have had their worlds turned upside down. 
The last thing they need is to take a stressful, ineffective standardized test. 

The AFT has written resolution to address various aspects of the pandemic and school needs going forward. Regarding Assessment, here is their stance:

RESOLVED, that the AFT will advocate for districts and states to develop systems of assessments that support teaching and learning by:
Seeking waivers on state summative assessments and the high-stakes consequences attached to them as the upcoming year is a bridge period following prolonged coronavirus closures and re-established instruction in schools;

Conducting comprehensive reviews of all assessment programs to limit the loss of learning time to excessive testing;

Prioritizing assessments that support and help target teaching and learning, including reliable, nonintrusive and teacher-friendly diagnostics—both in-person and virtual; and

Supporting teacher use of authentic assessments wherein students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of what they have learned.

Educators and families across the country are observing and predicting learning loss in academics and social emotional learning losses as well. But what is our best course– is it to spend some of the prized limited school days on testing?

During the pandemic, voices have been raised by educators, administrators, and families asking to postpone testing given the added pressure it can put on already stressed students and schools. Nov 2020 Edweek article “States Push to Ditch or Downplay Standardized Tests During Virus Surge 2020” reflects those concerns.

Others feel that the pandemic raises the import of testing, so that we can ascertain educational needs. However the federal ESSA mandated standardized tests are not deemed to be accurate about “learning loss”.

Our new Education Director, Michael Cordona, is standing firm in requiring states to conduct standardized tests.

There will be flexibility, but summative tests will be required.

“It is urgent to understand the impact of COVID-19 on learning,” Ian Rosenblum, acting assistant secretary in the office of elementary and secondary education, wrote to states. “We know, however, that some schools and school districts may face circumstances in which they are not able to safely administer statewide summative assessments this spring using their standard practices.”

Rosenblum said states would still have to publicly report data by student subgroups, as required. He also specifically encouraged states to extend the testing window for English-language proficiency tests.

Rosenblum did not give a deadline for when states would have to seek flexibility from accountability or other requirements. However he also said the department recognized that “individual states may need additional assessment flexibility based on the specific circumstances.” He added that in such cases, the department “will work with states to address their individual needs and conditions while ensuring the maximum available statewide data to inform the targeting of resources and supports.”

— Ian Rosenblum, Acting Asst. Sec. of Education

Assessing our Assessing!

Are we wasting student’s learning time, enthusiasm, and interest with multiple tests that bore them and often cause anxiety and discouragement?

As citizens we want to ensure effective public education for all. To determine if it is effective at the national, state, district, school, classroom, and student levels– we test.

Our students are tested in their classwork in daily and periodic tests, in district tests, in state mandated tests. Student learning time is devoted to testing in order to give us information we need to achieve effectiveness and equity. Delivering multiple varieties of assessment often interferes with quality curriculum and instruction by taking time and also by redirecting instruction to “cover” the test. In spite extraordinary expense of student and teacher time, test results often do not give teachers, students, or families usable information to improve learning.
Grade for our current assessment practices = D

Positive Assessment

CAST (the Center for Applied Special Technology) the developers of Universal Design for Learning framework use Assessment not from a “deficit perspective” but as an integral part of the learning experience. We have been and still are in such an urgent time, when students have lost opportunities. We must make use of the time to closely examine what each. student knows. Teachers are expert at thins.

CAST Big Takeaways on Assessment Now

Coherent Balanced Assessment

In 2001, an important report “Knowing What Students Know” was published, calling for a coherent, balanced system of assessments that meet the specific needs for learners, families, teachers, schools, districts, states and our nation. We have not succeeded in following the guidelines for coherence between tests. Since 2001 much has been developed in technology, gaming, cognitive psychology, understanding of the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s careers and lives. Yet, for the most part, we still have not integrated the 2001 basics.

Executive Summary, 17 pages.
Full Report, 383 pages.

CAST Series on Assessment: Assess for Learning —
CAST is a multifaceted organization with a singular ambition: Bust the barriers to learning that millions of people experience every day. Barriers are in the environment, not in the student. We need to shift the definition of Assessment from a negative reflection on what has not been accomplished to an integral part of learing.

What are “Balanced Assessment Systems and why do we need standardized annual assessments in addition to formative assessment and classroom assessments?

From the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment (aka Center for Assessment)

The Center for Assessment, a non profit in Dover, NH, focuses on support
ing educators understanding the variety and importance of balanced assessment. The Center has been working since 1998 on supporting coherent systems of assessment.

Click here to access Assessment Learning Modules that describe types and usages of various kinds of assessment.

Educators and families across the country are observing and predicting learning loss in academics and social emotional learning losses as well. But what is our best course– is it to spend some of the prized limited school days on testing?

During the pandemic, voices have been raised by educators, administrators, and families asking to postpone testing given the added pressure it can put on already stressed students and schools. Nov 2020 Edweek article “States Push to Ditch or Downplay Standardized Tests During Virus Surge 2020” reflects those concerns.

Others feel that the pandemic raises the import of testing, so that we can ascertain educational needs. However the federal ESSA mandated standardized tests are not deemed to be accurate about “learning loss”.

Authentic Assessment

It may be time to design learning objectives that map to real work and to design authentic assessments (tasks) that enable students to show what they know. There is great interest in “Authentic Assessment” also known as “Performance Assessment”, especially with the rise of PBL (Project Based Learning.) Instead of taking time away from learning to test students, curriculum can be designed to spur activities- projects, writing, research, experimentation, service- which generate results. The outcomes or learning products (the bridge designed in a marsh, the play written and acted about history, etc.) are evaluated against the learning objectives or targets. The US ED has stated it will consider applications to use Authentic Assessment in place of standardized summative tests. The state of New Hampshire applied and was granted the right to proceed with the PACE assessment they had been using for five years.

Performance Assessment of Competency Education – NH Assessment Model

New Hampshire’s PACE is a first-in-the-nation accountability strategy that offers a reduced level of standardized testing together with locally developed common performance assessments.
Click here for a chart of the NH assessments used by subject at various grade levels.


Flyer summarizing the qualities of formative and summative assessment.

Digital Skill Standards for Learning and Working

Over the past twenty years, a number of organizations have developed standards for digital learning, living, and working. Some of these standards are described below with links to sponsoring organizations and specific standards. These are helpful in crafting policies for digital equity and literacy.

K-12 DIGITAL LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS/APPROACHES

  • ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education)
    International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a passionate community of global educators who believe in the power of technology to transform teaching and learning, accelerate innovation and solve tough problems in education.STE inspires the creation of solutions and connections that improve opportunities for all learners by delivering: practical guidance, evidence-based professional learning, virtual networks, thought-provoking events and the ISTE Standards.

CAREER TECHNICAL EDUCATION

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

K-12 DIGITAL STANDARDS

CAREER TECHNICAL STANDARDS

SENIOR TECHNOLOGY SKILLS

My list of the tech skills seniors most want or need:

  1. Thinking about technology (look at things from a different perspective– above and at a slant)
  2. Feeling when things don’t work (mistakes are good- progress = knowing what did NOT work)
  3. Managing passwords (how to avoid frustration)
  4. Using smart phones- contract, type, service
  5. Smart phone- basics of email- sending, receiving, storing, searching
  6. Smart phone-photos- taking
  7. Smart phone-photos-storing and finding
  8. Smart phone-photos- sharing
  9. Smart phone–texts – individual and group
  10. Using social media- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tiktok
  11. Using a computer – parts of computer – mouse, trackpad, screen, camera, keyboard, USB port, power, display set up
  12. Internet browsing, searching, shopping, sharing
  13. Using applications- which to use, how to open, how to use
  14. Creating and saving documents
  15. Using spreadsheets
  16. Organizing- files, folders, desktop
  17. Using your computer network- printer, Internet server, tv
  18. Security-malware, file and online security

Authentic Assessment

The emergence of PBL (Project-Based Learning) has accelerated interest in “authentic assessment”– the evaluation of student work by rubric. This practice makes it possible for students to spend their time learning and for teachers to spend instructional time in support of student learning and progress rather than interrupting learning for testing or test prep.

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