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October 8, 2015

Reflection Journal #3: Assessment


I really enjoyed reading the chapter on assessment from On Being a Language Teacher.
It helped me to understand better how much work and thought it takes to really make a valid
exam, as did making my own multiple choice quiz. I know some of my most stressful
experiences in school have been due to the way my teachers made/did their assessments. Even
(and especially) in college here at CSU, I have had teachers who do horrible assessments. I
remember one Spanish teacher in particular who gave us random quizzes on the reading in order
to assess who read and understood and who did not. The quizzes consisted of 5 True/False
questions on rather obscure parts of the reading. Even if I did the reading (which was 95% of the
time), I failed 4 out of the 5 quizzes! It was ridiculously frustrating. This experience plus reading
this chapter on assessment has made me certain that I definitely want to assess my students in
such a way that minimizes stress and that is valid. The chapter goes into more detail on how to
make valid, real, and authentic summative assessments (tests and finals) which is something that
I definitely want to make sure to do. I want to be one of those teachers who can assure their
students that there are no surprises on the test, who uses mostly open format questions to really
allow students to produce in the language, and who tests what he/she actually teaches.
I also want to get increasingly better at doing formative assessments in class all the time
and continue searching for different ways to be able to do this. Formative assessments are so
important because they help you as a teacher to know what your students are understanding and
to see where they are at with the material so that you can repeat, clarify, paraphrase, or improve
an explanation or input (Lpez-Burton, 258) whenever students arent understanding
something. From chapter 11 in our textbook, I really like the idea of doing portfolio assessment.
This way of assessing documents the growth and development of students over a period of

time (Shrum & Glisan, 383). It looks more at the students improvement over time, which I
think is much more important that assessing what a student knows at one time. They may have
studied at the last minute right before a test to get a good grade but had none of the information
go further than their short-term memory. Seeing a students growth over time gives a better show
of what has gotten into their long-term memory, what they will remember and be able to use as
they continue into the next units, which is what we, as language teachers, want.