I'm a Professor in the Department of Elementary Education at Rhode Island
College and principal investigator of KITES (Kits in Teaching Elementary
Science), a K-6 science reform project. I teach several different courses
including elementary science methods.
As a result of my work with KITES and a mathematics reform initiative in
the East Bay region of Rhode Island, I am working on ways to help preservice
teachers understand assessment of student learning.
During one of the teaching experiences in the elementary science methods
course, preservice teachers work in pairs with a group of 10-12 elementary
students as they design and conduct a 7-hour standards-based unit. Students
apply an approach to teaching recommended by Paul Black and Wynne Harlen in
Nuffield Primary Science curriculum. (See
http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/primaryscience/index.html). To understand
what and how their students are learning, preservice teachers collect
assessment information from two children with different abilities. They use
a wide range of assessment methods (e.g., systematic teacher observations,
checklists, student self-assessments, performance assessment, student work
assessed using a rubric, continuous Know-Wonder-Learn charting).
Periodically, they examine student work together, trying to make sense of
the information. At the end of the investigation, they interpret all of the
collected information, explain in writing how their students thinking has
changed (or not changed), and propose next steps in teaching and learning.
To involve students in setting criteria, our inservice and preservice
teachers use the process suggested in the publication, "Developing and Using
Criteria with Students" by Katherine Gregory, Caren Cameron, and Anne Davies
(Connections Publishing, Merville British Columbia, 1997). I highly
recommend this practical 70-page book to both inservice and preservice
teachers. The book contains a simple 4-step collaborative process for
setting criteria and ten ways to assess without putting a mark on a paper.