EDU649 Week 3 Reflection, Assessment
Assessments should be used as evaluations that determine what you need to do in the classroom. Typically in my technology classes I use it to help figure out what may need to be covered again for skill mastery or general safety knowledge. It serves as a way to gather info on what I may need to loop back on or reinforce within my shop classes. A lot of times assessments on skills have rubrics that students see beforehand. The assessments give ample leeway for students to produce work at their current level of skill mastery and not have to be concerned with the work directly correlating to a number grade. At the end of the day students are really judged on performing a task and not based on how well they have memorized information. Currently as a daily formative assessment I utilize exit tickets and daily work progress to inform the modeling or demonstration I present.
In my own experience in trade schooling we had many tasks where we had to create objects to certain tolerances. Your product of a machining process being the slightest fraction of a millimeter bigger or smaller would immediately result in a wild grade change. While I understand the rigor and intensity of this sort of project assessment, how it reinforces craft while machining, I find it’s not a sustainable practice at a high school level. The teacher is only responding to a final artifact and not seeing or assessing the act of production. Students also get very hyper focused on tasks and tolerances that they may never interact with in a real-life mid to low stakes contract job. To create a rich dialog on the work we do in my classes I focus assessing more tasks now rather than final products. For instance I can better address where students are at when it comes to 3D modeling if I assess their shared 3D workspaces a few days into a project. It allows me to modify my lessons for a class to accommodate what they need help with. It also allows for me to pair students or differentiate the final products of various groups or students based on their work. I find it interesting that my students almost always question if the exactness of a project and how it will reflect in a grade, even if I’ve been clear I’m mainly focused on process and completion rather than precision.
With regards to formal summative assessments, thankfully my current classes are not under the CTE umbrella. If that was the case most likely I’d have to spend more time preparing my students for NOCTI testing. This would be beneficial to them potentially as they’d get credit through NJIT or another institution, however my lessons and assessments would change entirely. Instead of focusing on achievement in craft or work in progress I would have to transition to more aptitude testing to help forecast their NOCTI scores. This would probably hyper focus both myself and students on end-results and fact retention rather than process assessment and reflective practices. Thinking back on my time in Philadelphia we spent much more time teaching our students to take the test than working in the auto shops. My school was trying its best to stretch resources from both nonprofit and public school sources to build the infrastructure and resources to start bridging the achievement gap, but we were focused on getting kids to score well on either NOCTI or certification tests primarily. One thing I found interesting in my reading is the usage of competitive events as proof of competency. Specifically the text lists FIRST robotics competitions as a means for students to demonstrate competency in electronics and robotics skills in general(p 117). Reflecting on this I would possibly use these events to allow students to demonstrate proficiency in certain skills, but not broad categories. My reasoning is that from first hand experience mentors do a large amount of heavy lifting with their students. So when it comes down to it, the events are great for student engagement and some demonstration of skill, but the skills assessed need to be critically identified beforehand. Another thing I found interesting in the book is how students and teachers are tracked and assessed. In the STEM SOS model students must have a certain number of projects that meet various criteria going at any given time. These levels are generally differentiated by student agency as well as governance and teacher involvement. Then teachers as part of their assessment must report and present on their students projects as they move through the academic year(p 123). I could see this working at a fully invested PBL school, but it’s very hard to imagine at my current school.