Assessment (2000)

March 2000

OCTELA supports assessment and evaluation.  However, most testing by its nature presumes that some will pass and some will fail. We are opposed to high stakes testing that sorts districts and students into winners and losers. We oppose labeling children as failures for the adult inadequacies of  poor teaching, poor parenting and/ or a poor environment.

OCTELA believes that all children can learn.  However, we know that children do not learn at the same rate, the same time or under the same circumstances.  Children have a wide diversity of talents, experiences, goals and needs.  Assessment should be of varying styles and types over a developmentally appropriate band of time in order for each child to meet his or her individual potential.

OCTELA believes in continuous growth and improvement over time.  “The issue is not tests per se, but our failure to be results oriented.” (Grant Wiggins)  Educators need the data from tests to measure growth and need.  Just working harder is not enough of a direction.  We need specific information from assessments to self-correct, change course, and emphasize areas of need and also of success.

OCTELA believes that state mandated assessments have yet to go to the last, most important step. School districts and teachers need to use the information from assessments in a more productive manner.  We need a professional teaching culture that emphasizes shared responsibility for reflective teaching, continual  student improvement, and not simply high scores at certain grades. (Dennie Palmer Wolf and Ann Marie White)

OCTELA Recommends:

That testing results be used in a more productive manner:

 

  • Focus professional development on data collection (What’s of value?), data analysis (How do I interpret this?) and action (How do I use this information to change teaching strategies?).  Think about “data mentors” and professional systems that train and support people to accurately interpret data from tests, track sample populations or track sample test questions, to make informed decisions about what very specifically to teach, what specifically to ask parents to help with and what specifically a community can do to help its children.
  • Include teachers in the process. Many teachers will say “No more testing”, but  some of those same teachers will tell you that they are hungry for the opportunity to talk with skilled and experienced colleagues when given the time to talk about their students’ performances. Analyzing data from a test should become a building and district directive to collaboratively develop quality teaching strategies and assignments to meet areas of poor results and celebrate areas of success.
  • Focus on the progress and growth in individual children.  Use multiple assessment tools including State mandated testing to track and assist children in meeting standards.