Assessing Students in the Middle School Science Classroom

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Assessing Students in the Middle School Science Classroom by Mind Map: Assessing Students in the Middle School Science Classroom

1. Portfolio

1.1. What are they?

1.1.1. Portfolio assessments are a collection of a student's work over a period of time.

1.2. Why are they used?

1.2.1. Portfolio assessments are a good tool to use for continuous assessment. As students are adding to their portfolio, any weakness/learning deficiency is revealed and can be addressed. They also allow a higher level of engagement with the student and the educator as well as with the parents.

1.3. What are some pros/cons of using portfolio assessments?

1.3.1. Advantages: Portfolio assessments are a valuable tool in helping students develop critical thinking skills. They also allow much more flexibility in meeting individual learning goals. Students have much more autonomy with this type of assessment than with high stakes or summative assessments. This, in turn, often results in students' taking a much more active role in their learning process.

1.3.2. Disadvantages: The main disadvantage of using this type of assessment is that it is relatively time-consuming. Adding materials by the student and grading/scoring them by the educator takes much more time than other assessments. Since each portfolio is unique to individual student's there also needs to be a universal scoring system in order to assess all students equally.

1.4. What type of assessment is this?

1.4.1. This is an assessment OF learning. Portfolio assessments are designed to have students demonstrate what they have learned and if they have met the goals of their educational program.

1.5. How can this be used in middle school science?

1.5.1. Growth porfolios These are designed to show growth/change over time. They also help students develop skills such as goal-setting.

1.5.2. Evaluation portfolios These are more of a 'showcase' portfolio. They generally are a summation of a student's best pieces of work, which can be then used in the application process for other programs, schools or to show to future teachers.

1.5.3. Evaluation portfolios These portfolios are generally used as a grading mechanism as well as a placement tool for students.

2. Performance-Based

2.1. What are they?

2.1.1. Performance-based assessments are generally used as an alternative to summative assessments in order to gauge student progress. These tests, instead of answering specific questions, require students to demonstrate their understanding and skill level through a more tailored final product.

2.2. Why are they used?

2.2.1. Proponents of performance-based assessments feel this type of assessment is a good way to help educators determine what students have actually learned, not just how well they test.

2.3. What are some pros/cons of using performance-based assessments?

2.3.1. Advantages: Using these types of assessments allow teachers to have a much broader sense of student progress. Students are required to take an active role, therefore it is easy for an educator to determine if a student has grasped the concepts of a particular unit of study. It is also a much more independent and individually tailored form of assessment, therefore students in turn must develop a higher sense of responsibility for their education.

2.3.2. Disadvantages: This is a more subjective form of evaluating a student's progress. Educators need to ensure they have a clear and consistent method of scoring all students.

2.4. What type of assessment is this?

2.4.1. This is an assessment OF learning. Although at first glance it may not seem as formal as a summative assessment, it still is used to evaluate a student's level of learning and understanding.

2.5. How could this be used in middle school science?

2.5.1. Educators could very easily incorporate this type of an assessment into the middle school science curriculum. In just about every aspect of science (chemistry, physics, biology) students could be assigned an experiment to design and implement. A grading rubric could then be designed to assess all students equally.

3. Diagnostic

3.1. What are they?

3.1.1. Diagnostic assessments are also known as "pre-assessments.". They look at what a student already knows and helps identify what resources (if any) a student may need in further learning.

3.2. Why are they used?

3.2.1. Diagnostic assessments are mostly used to help identify where a s student is at in their learning. It can help "diagnose" a student's weaknesses as well as strengths.

3.3. What are some pros/cons of using diagnostic assessments?

3.3.1. Advantages: Using diagnostic assessments, a teacher can more effectively tailor lesson plans to the students' needs. It can help play a role in improving learning outcomes for all students in the classroom.

3.3.2. Disadvantages: This can ultimately be very time-consuming for a teacher to do on a continuous basis, especially if there are a number of students on different levels throughout the class.

3.4. What type of assessment is it?

3.4.1. Diagnostic assessments are assessments FOR learning. By definition, diagnose means to identify the nature of the problem by examination of the symptoms. These types of assessments

3.5. How could this be used in middle school science?

3.5.1. Pre-test/quiz at the beginning of the year or unit to determine where the class stands on the subject matter.

4. High Stakes

4.1. What are they?

4.1.1. High stakes assessments are generally tests which attach significant consequences to their outcome.

4.2. Why are they used?

4.2.1. These types of assessments are used in determining a particular outcome for a student or even a school (i.e. moving on to the next grade, obtaining a license, being granted funding, ect).

4.3. What are some pros/cons of using high stakes assessments?

4.3.1. Advantages: Although they are considered to be somewhat controversial, high stakes testing does have some advantages. It is a very consistent form of evaluation (i.e. the same test is giving to all students). Schools that have scores on the lower end can receive more resources from the state in order to help them improve. The data from these tests are available to the public, therefore parents can make more informed decisions in their child's education.

4.3.2. Disadvantages: These types of assessments can cause quite a bit of anxiety in students and educators due to the pressure to do well on the tests. Opponents of high stakes testing have often said that teachers are often 'teaching to the test', which takes away from other subject areas. Subjects such as music and art are often cut first. These types of tests also do not offer the whole picture of a student's ability to learn. Some students who may not test well may actually be learning the material at the same pace, but would benefit from other methods of assessments such as performance-based.

4.4. What type of assessment is this?

4.4.1. This is an assessment OF learning. This is a type of assessment that is used to gauge whether or not students have met curriculum/standard outcomes. They may also be used to make decisions about a student's placement or how much funding a school could receive.

4.5. How could this be used in middle school science?

4.5.1. At the middle school level, many states/districts test students on their science proficiency. Most often educators will be preparing students to take these types of tests. To help prepare, teachers can give pre-tests to gauge levels of understanding.

5. Formative

5.1. What are they?

5.1.1. Formative assessments are continuous assessments throughout the learning process.

5.2. Why are they used?

5.2.1. Formative assessments are used to help address student needs and learning goals all throughout the learning process.

5.3. What are some pros/cons of using formative assessments?

5.3.1. Advantages: There are absolutely more advantages than not when using formative assessments. These types of assessments are essential in helping to ensure individual student success. The key idea behind formative assessments is that it is continuous. Therefore, students are always being assessed to see if they understand the information being presented. If not, then instruction can be adjusted to help get students back on track.

5.3.2. Disadvantages: Just like diagnostic assessments, These can be very time-consuming for a teacher, especially with assessments like entrance/exit slips which require time to gather information and assess.

5.4. What type of assessment is it?

5.4.1. Formative assessments are assessments FOR learning. Through the continuous feedback, students and teachers are able to work together in order to get to where they need to be within the learning process.

5.5. How could this be used in middle school science?

5.5.1. Entrance/exit slips before and/or after each lesson to gauge student understanding. Lesson plans could then be adjusted to accommodate areas of weakness.

6. Summative

6.1. What are they?

6.1.1. Summative assessments are generally used at the end of the learning period (i.e. the year, unit, course, semester, etc) to evaluate a student's progress.

6.2. Why are they used?

6.2.1. These types of assessments are essentially used to determine whether or not students have learned the material they have been taught. They are used as a tool to evaluate how effective the learning process was and how to measure progress. Generally these types of assessments are more formal and have grades or scores associated with them .

6.3. What are some pros/cons of using summative assessments?

6.3.1. Advantages: These types of assessments are a good way to motivate students to pay attention in class and learn the material. They also can be used as a tool to gauge how effective a teacher's instruction is on the topics being tested.

6.3.2. Disadvantages: These types of assessments are generally the least liked of all. In cases of standardized tests, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the amount of classroom time centered around preparing students for the tests. Summative assessments are also not always indicative of true student learning. Many students may have apprehension or anxiety when taking tests or may not test well in general, thus leading to an inaccurate reflection of their learning.

6.4. What type of assessment is this?

6.4.1. This is an assessment OF learning. Summative assessments are formal tools used to evaluate student achievements against goals and standards. It provides evidence of learning to teachers, parents, school administrators as well as local and state school systems.

6.5. How could this be used in middle school science?

6.5.1. Chapter/unit tests are a common form of this type of assessment in science classes. It is with relative ease that educators can incorporate current science standards into summative assessments.

7. Authentic

7.1. What are they?

7.1.1. Authentic assessments are ones that analyze a student's progress as it relates to the "real-world." They sometimes can also overlap with performance objectives.

7.2. Why are they used?

7.2.1. Authentic assessments can be used for a variety of reasons, but most often it is the school's objective to help students become productive after they leave their program of study and enter the world outside their learning environment.

7.3. What are some pros/cons of using authentic assessments?

7.3.1. Advantages: Proponents of authentic assessments view using them as a way to set up students for real-world success. It requires students to play an active role in their learning process along with their educator. Students use a higher order of thinking as they navigate through assignments that are engaging and hold their level of interest.

7.3.2. Disadvantages: Again, this is one of the more time-consuming assessments to perform in the classroom as well as grade appropriately (due to the subjective nature of the assessment). Many educators may also find difficulty finding ways to incorporate the required standards using authentic assessments.

7.4. What type of assessment is this?

7.4.1. This is an assessment OF learning. Although with a deeper analysis, it may also be viewed as an assessment FOR learning as well. The main focus of this assessment though is to gauge and ultimately score how well a student has learned their unit of study. But since this is a collaborative effort between student and educator, there is also is a continuous stream of assessment as the assignment progresses. Students often provide progress reports or perform practice runs to their teacher, who in turn provides them feedback.

7.5. How can this be used in middle school science?

7.5.1. There are multiple ways these types of assessments can be incorporated into a middle school science classroom. A relatively seamless way students could be evaluated is to design and implement an experiment that would be performed in any research lab (i.e. DNA typing, testing car safety, etc).

8. Self-Assessment

8.1. What is self-assessment?

8.1.1. This type of assessment helps students independently assess their own learning though various methods such as goal-setting or guided practice.

8.2. Why is it used?

8.2.1. It is often used to help motivate students and encourage them to be more independent learners.

8.3. What are some pros/cons of using self-assessment?

8.3.1. Advantages: It helps students develop a sense of personal responsibility. It also encourages students to be more involved in their learning through self-reflection and assessment of peer reviews.

8.3.2. Disadvantages: Since this is a very independent and self-driven process, ensuring appropriate assessments are truly taking place may prove to be difficult. It may also prove to be time consuming for the educator, especially if students perhaps do not feel prepared enough to perform a self-assessment.

8.4. What type of assessment is this?

8.4.1. This is predominately an assessment FOR learning. Using this type of assessment, students are encouraged to be active and involved in their own personal learning process. By doing so, they can more accurately gauge where there may be gaps in their learning.

8.5. How can this be used in middle school science?

8.5.1. Educators can guide students during their self-assessment process by developing graphic organizers. These can be in the form of worksheets or even more appropriate: KWHL charts (what I KNOW, what i WANT to learn, HOW I will find out and what I have LEARNED).

9. Peer-Assessment

9.1. What peer-assessment?

9.1.1. Peer assessment is similar to self-assessment in that it helps to develop and deepen a student's own learning experience. With peer assessments, not only does the educator evaluate a student's work but other students do as well.

9.2. Why is it used?

9.2.1. There are a variety of reasons why this type of assessment is valuable. Similar to self-assessment, it helps students become more independent learners. Students can also learn from their peers' successes as well as failures. As students navigate throughout the peer assessment process they in turn can develop a deeper understanding of their own work and start to become more active learners.

9.3. What are some pros/cons of using peer assessment?

9.3.1. Advantages: Using peer assessment encourages personal responsibility. Students are also more involved in their learning process, therefore they tend to take more ownership in their projects. Using peer assessments can sometimes lessen the load of the educator if they are done successfully.

9.3.2. Disadvantages Similar to self assessments, these can also be time consuming if students need extra help going over materials. Some students may also not feel comfortable judging their peers, therefore a true and honest reflection of their peers' assignments may not actually occur.

9.4. What type of assessment is this?

9.4.1. Peer assessment is more of an assessment FOR learning. They are generally used as a final assessment, but more of a way to encourage students to become more involved in the learning process. Peer assessments can be used for students to reflect upon their work and make improvements where there are gaps.

9.5. How can this be used in middle school science?

9.5.1. There are multiple ways peer assessment can be used in a middle school science classroom. All science experiments begin with a hypothesis. A peer assessment such as think-pair-share would be beneficial to students to work through the beginning of an experimental design.