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    Types of assessments in high school classrooms

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    This solution was originally part of my masters thesis. I have decided to make it available for others to read. In this solution/essay I will discuss types of assessment (i.e. formative vs summative), adaptations for certain groups of students, how the 2 types of assessments can be used in a classroom unit, what the analysis of the results means from a teacher perspective.

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    Learning or the act of gaining knowledge is a wonderful thing. It can open doors previously closed. Learning is only part of the puzzle. Comprehension is another piece. I can learn about something all day, but if I don't understand what I am learning, then my newfound knowledge will be useless to me. As teachers, we have to have some way to determine whether or not our students understand the concepts that we are trying to teach them. We do this by using a tool called assessment.

    However, since No Child Left Behind was passed it seems like teachers spend an exorbitant amount of time either testing students or preparing for exams, so much so that there is precious little time left to delve deeper into concepts, so teachers are limited to devoting an unequal amount of time to some concepts. Although, I dislike the No Child Left Behind law, this paper will not go there. Rather, this paper will discuss the types of assessment and how I would utilize them in my classroom and my 2 week unit. As I am unable to utilize my own classroom for this project, I will discuss what I plan on doing when I actually get the opportunity to teach.

    An assessment can take many forms; the formal pencil and paper assessment that we call an exam or a test, or quiz. If a formal test is taken at the conclusion of a unit of study, it is called a summative assessment. A summative assessment is an assessment tool that determines what a student knows at a particular time. Examples of summative assessments are things like benchmark tests, end of course/grade tests, teacher generated unit tests, end of semester tests. (Garrison, n.d.; Garrison, n.d.)

    Another type of assessment is the formative assessment. This type of assessment includes such things as asking pointed questions to check for understanding. Some other examples of formative assessments include: graphic organizers, lists, charts, summaries, reflections, cooperative learning activities. (Dodge, n.d) This type of assessment is more of an informal assessment, since these learning activities often are not graded.


    My unit that I am planning is entitled Chemistry in Biology. It is a basic chemistry/biochemistry unit designed for high school introductory biology, which includes both formative and summative assessments. Here I will give an overview of my assessment plan for this unit.

    The first assessment I would administer would be a summative pre-assessment to ascertain how familiar the students are with the standards and objectives that are to be taught in this unit. The standards and objectives for this unit can be found at the following website: http://arkansased.org/educators/pdf/biology_9-12_06.pdf The pre-assessment is designed to determine the students' familiarity with the basic chemical concepts that will be taught during the administration of this unit. It is mostly Bloom's level 1 or 2 rather than higher level thinking questions that would be included on a unit summative assessment.

    The next few assessments would be a formative type of assessment rather than a summative assessment. In one lesson the students will compose a rap song utilizing certain criteria from the lesson, and then they will perform it for the class. In another lesson, the students will complete a worksheet or a foldable from information presented in the lesson, they will then use the foldable as a study aid for the upcoming summative assessments. I would also give several quizzes throughout the course of this unit. These will be used as tools to determine whether or not the students' have understood what they have learned. During this unit I will also ask pointed questions during activities, and lectures to check for the students' understanding of the topic being covered that day. This can be done informally by walking around the room during the independent practice period, and asking the students questions about why they are doing what they are doing. I will also utilize cooperative learning activities from time to time and monitor the students by walking around the room and listening to what they are discussing. Finally, I will end the unit with a summative test review followed by a unit test. As you can see, I plan on utilizing a variety of methods to ascertain what the students learned and how well they understand what they are learning.

    All my summative assessment tools were personally created by me, rather than being pre-generated by some textbook company. This helped me align the assessments to my state standards and objectives. As I was preparing my assessment materials, I utilized a copy of my state standards and objectives. In my state of Arkansas the objectives as well as the standards are given to you. If there are multiple topics that could be included in the objective, those topics are included as well. This makes things easier when the teacher is trying to create instructional materials that align with the state standards. For example, if the objective states for the student to learn about the properties of water, rather than just making a statement such as the student will understand the properties of water, the objective will go further and actually tell the teacher what properties of water the student needs to learn about. When it comes to lesson planning, all the teacher has to do is ensure that he/she has taught the students all the properties of water listed in the objective. This also makes it easy to ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution discusses the 2 major types of assessments: their differences and how they can be used and adapted in a high school classroom environment.