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Yong Zhao, a professor in the College of Education at the University of Oregon and author of more than 20 books, speaks out against standardized tests.

Tests are just one form of assessment, he points out, and limited in what they can accurately measure. Important qualities such as creativity, persistence and collaboration, for example, are tricky to measure, because they are individualized and situation- or task-specific (someone may collaborate well in one group setting but not in another). And no test can measure whether children are receiving “a quality learning experience that meets the needs of individual students.”

High-stakes tests concern Zhao the most, because he says they represent more than misspent time and money. He faults them for suppressing creativity and innovation, and creating narrowed educational experiences, because everything that is not measured becomes secondary or is dismissed entirely. Moreover, “constant ranking and sorting” creates stress and makes students less confident.

By contrast, feedback that avoids needless comparisons among students can be very useful, and doesn’t require much time or money. When it’s clear which skills and content need to be mastered (such as the ability to conjugate verbs in order to become proficient in a foreign language), low-stakes tests can help learners direct their attention to filling in the gaps in their knowledge. More helpful still are explicit written assessments that describe an individual’s progress. The key to good assessment, says Zhao, is to ask: “Whose purpose does this serve? Is the learner trying to get better using assessment, … rather than just using it to judge?”

From the second of a two-part conversation with Yong Zhao about standards, testing and other core elements of the modern system of education, and the assumptions that may be standing in the way of meeting the real learning needs of all children.
http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/03/16/how-should-learning-be-assessed/

A research study by British Education Datalab suggests that there is no such thing as linear progress. It reveals that just 45 per cent of secondary school pupils make expected progress between Key Stages 2 and 3; and just 33 per cent between Key Stages 3 and 4. Of the pupils who do make expected progress, the majority will do so at an uneven rate, including periods of both slower and more rapid progress. This means that many children will be underperforming at some stage of their school career. Pupils who have low levels of attainment at Key Stage 1 have particularly uneven progress projections.

 "Our evidence suggests that the assumptions of many pupil tracking systems and Ofsted inspectors are probably incorrect. The vast majority of pupils do not make linear progress between each Key Stage, let alone across all Key Stages. This means that identifying pupils as ‘on track’ or ‘off target’ based on assumptions of linear progress over multiple years is likely to be wrong."

"This is important because the way we track pupils and set targets for them influences our teaching and learning practice in the classroom, contributes to headteacher judgements of teacher performance and is used to judge whether schools are performing well or not."

http://www.educationdatalab.org.uk/getattachment/Blog/March-2015/Seven-things-you-might-not-know-about-our-schools/EduDataLab-7things.pdf.aspx

The 2010-2015 US National Edu Tech Plan which brought “common core”, “performance based assessment” and “next gen science standards” to the US educational agenda is over. The new 5 years plan focuses on active, experiential learning as the “future ready” pedagogical approach, project-based learning as the future ready pedagogical method and multi-source analytics as the control mechanism to ensure that the students will achieve the curricular objectives as well as general skills such as reflection, critical thinking, persistence, and perseverance. The plan also calls educational leaders (school administrators) to encourage teachers forming data teams so that they can “collaborate to make instructional decisions based on a diverse data set, including student and teacher observations and reflections, student work, formative and summative assessment results.” Information dashboards that visualize this data, making it available in real-time would be a prime tool for teachers to keep their students on track. Such dashboards are also indicated to provide insights to administrators; families; and, most importantly, the learners themselves.

 

Finally, data from analytics embedded within learning activities and software aided by real-time availability of data and visualizations can help students to adapt experiences to their individual needs, enabling personalization at a massive scale.

 

Get the full report: netp16.pdf

The 2010-2015 US National Edu Tech Plan which brought “common core”, “performance based assessment” and “next gen science standards” to the US educational agenda is over. The new 5 years plan focuses on active, experiential learning as the “future ready”  pedagogical approach, project-based learning as the future ready pedagogical method and multi-source analytics as the control mechanism to ensure that the students will achieve the curricular objectives as well as general skills such as reflection, critical thinking, persistence, and perseverance.

 

The plan also calls educational leaders (school administrators) to encourage teachers forming data teams so that they can “collaborate to make instructional decisions based on a diverse data set, including student and teacher observations and reflections, student work, formative and summative assessment results.” Information dashboards that visualize this data, making it available in real-time would be a prime tool for teachers to keep their students on track. Such dashboards are also indicated to provide insights to administrators; families; and, most importantly, the learners themselves.

 


 

Finally, data from analytics embedded within learning activities and software aided by real-time availability of data and visualizations can help  students to adapt experiences to their individual needs, enabling personalization at a massive scale.


Jan Synek
11/12/15

Using Data With Students

One of the goals of LEA's Box is to make educational assessment and appraisal more goal-oriented, proactive, and beneficial for students.  This article describes how using data with students builds their capacity to access, analyze, and use data effectively to reflect, set goals, and document growth.

Making Students Partners in Data-Driven Approaches to Learning

Teachers and school leaders everywhere collect and analyze data to make informed decisions about instruction that will support all students in meeting state and Common Core standards. However, in many schools, the power of data to improve student achievement is not fully leveraged because students are left out of the process. The most powerful determinants of student growth are the mindsets and learning strategies that students themselves bring to their work—how much they care about working hard and learning, how convinced they are that hard work leads to growth, and how capably they have built strategies to focus, organize, remember, and navigate challenges.

When students themselves identify, analyze, and use data from their learning, they become active agents in their own growth. They set personal goals informed by data they understand, and they own those goals. The framework of student-engaged assessment provides a range of opportunities to involve students in using data to improve their learning. As the story about Jacelyn illustrates, using data with students has the potential to build reflective and confident learners with key dispositions of college and career readiness.Students use their classwork as a source for data, analyzing strengths, weaknesses, and patterns to improve their work.

  • Students use their classwork as a source for data, analyzing strengths, weaknesses, and patterns to improve their work.
  • Students regularly analyze evidence of their own progress. They track their progress on assessments and assignments, analyze their errors for patterns, and describe what they see in the data about their current level of performance.
  • Students use data to set goals and reflect on their progress over time and incorporate data analysis into student-led conferences.

See Making Students Partners in Data-Driven Approaches to Learning

An excerpt from the book “Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools Through Student-Engaged Assessment,” by Ron Berger, Leah Rugen, and Libby Woodfin. This excerpt is from the chapter entitled “Using Data With Students.”

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Lea's Learning Analytics Blog

Learning analytics, educational data mining, formative assessment - all recent buzz words in educational research. In principle, the idea is to find theoretical frameworks, models, procedures, and smart tools to collect, aggregate, analyze, reason on and visualize large scale educational data. LEA’s BOX is a research and development project funded by the European Commission. The project aims at (a) making educational assessment and appraisal more goal-oriented, proactive, and beneficial for students, and (b) at enabling formative support of teachers and other educational stakeholders on a solid basis of a wide range of information about learners. That means, LEA’s BOX is a learning analytics toolbox that is intended to enable educators to perform competence-centered, multi-source learning analytics. More info at http://www.leas-box.eu!

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