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Voice and Choice in Assessment

Abigail Gongora

Graduate School of Education


Touro University California

Introduction
Imagine a classroom where students
are encouraged and supported to engage
in and drive their own learning, to create a
meaningful final product that serves as an
assessment of their knowledge. This is
the kind of school where students and
teachers thrive.
It is the model that
supports the needs of the 21st century
workforce:
creativity,
collaboration,
communication, and critical thinking.
Supporting
teachers
in
their
understanding of the importance of
feedback and changing the way students
and teachers interact is essential to this
new model of learning.

Background and Need


As we enter this new era of Common Core
State Standards (CCSS, 2010), students are
being taught to be creative, to communicate,
to collaborate, and to think critically. This is
an exciting time to be an educatorteachers
can now design tasks for students that are
not tied to single, discrete standards, but are
a blend of several standards and skills. Due
to the exponential evolution of technology in
our society our teachers are educating
students for a world that doesnt yet exist and
preparing them for jobs we may not even be
able to imagine (Robinson, n.d.) And yet, for
too many the assessment system hasnt
changed. Students are still asked to sit in
isolation to complete tasks.

Driving Question & Initial Analysis


How can we actively engage students in the
assessment process and use that data to
inform lesson and assessment design?
By involving students in the assessment
process, they are more likely to develop an
inclination for learning than as the passive
recipients of test scores. They are also more
likely to develop the skills of setting goals,
managing the pursuit of those goals and selfmonitoring, all important 21st Century skills
(National Research Council [NRC], 2012).
Active
student
involvement
in
the
assessment process is key to the
development of students becoming selfdirected learners. Teachers should use a
developmental approach to assessment that
allows students to demonstrate mastery not
with a single assessment, but using a variety
of assessment types, over time, to get an
accurate picture of student learning (Griffin,
2007).

Students who were surveyed reported


feeling an increased pressure to perform
on traditional assessments and have little
to no experience with the types of
questions they are now being asked to
answer. Some students report that they
dont understand the nature of the
questions, while others report difficulty with
the format and the technology tools
required to complete the test. Other
students report feeling rushed. This is true
of classroom and computer based
assessments. In all three grade levels
surveyed, students responded that their
preferred format for testing was either:
multiple choice, short answer, or project
based.

In order to engage students academically,


emotionally, and socially, we need to
redesign our assessment system to allow
students more choice and voice. This will
lead to increases in student motivation, skill
acquisition, and retention of knowledge.
(Abbott)
Assessment is a strong reason for learning
and can also impact a students desire to
learn. We want to foster students abilities to
learn actively and deeply. This is
accomplished through voice and choice.

Conclusions

Students are highly engaged in an


assessment where they receive feedback and
understand the learning outcomes. A focus for
teachers at Browns Valley is to develop
assessments where students have a clear
understanding of assessment types and how to
design common formative assessments with
student needs in mind.
A shift in teaching is on the rise with the
implementation of CCSS. A shift in the
assessment process is necessary as well. By
providing students a range of assessment
choices in the same way teachers are providing
students with a range of learning techniques
and strategies, students engagement will
increase with their mastery of content.

Literature cited

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers. New York: Routledge.


Linquanti, Robert. 2014. Supporting Formative Assessment for
Deeper Learning: What Policymakers Must Know and Be Able to
Do. Paper prepared for the Formative Assessment for Student and
Teachers (FAST) State Collaborative on Assessment and Student
Standards (SCASS). Washington, DC: Council of Chief State
School Officers (CCSSO)
Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998) Understanding by design.
Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Voice and Choice Increases


Engagement

Photo courtesy of: http://bit.ly/1j4xsma


Background photo courtesy of: http://bit.ly/1Nygghp

Data-driven Assessment
Options

Taking into consideration how teachers work with


students on the Scholastic Reading Inventory
(conferencing and feedback) and students attitudes to
traditional testing, the results show that students
respond well to constructive feedback on their progress
and students are invested in the assessment.
Teachers need to include this type of feedback more
regularly in their classroom. Another key to success is
for teachers to conduct a needs assessment of their
students testing preferences and to develop different
types of assessments to better gauge students
knowledge acquisition.

Acknowledgments
Thank you to the staff and students and Browns Valley Elementary School for
your patience as I went on this journey. Learning together was so fun! Thank
you also to Touro University, Pam Redmond, and Martha McCoy for your
unwavering support. Many thanks to NapaLearns for your generous fellowship.

For further information

Please contact agongora@nvusd.org


More information on this and related projects can be obtained
at www.learnovationlab.org