forOF - ASSESSMENT Balancing the Assessment of Learning and...

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Balancing the Assessment of Learning and for Learning in Support of Student Literacy Achievement Patricia A. Edwards, Jennifer D. Turner, Kouider Mokhtari O ver 15 years ago, Taylor (1991) raised an im- portant issue pertaining to children’s assess- ment in her classic book Learning Denied . The story centers on Patrick, a young literacy learner whose school labeled him as having “perceptual problems” and as unable to function well in the “nor- mal” classroom setting. Although Patrick had strong literacy skills developed in his home environment, the school’s assessments did not consider these “funds of knowledge” (Moll, 1990) and thus identified him as a “deficit reader.” When teachers read about what schools sometimes do to students like Patrick, in the name of assessment, their anger and frustration is vis- ible. They are frustrated with the awkward tension be- tween classroom assessment of student learning for accountability purposes and assessment for learning 2004). As literacy educators, we encourage teachers to be responsive to and respectful of students’ diverse funds of knowledge, knowing that this type of assess- ment perspective has several benefits for students, teachers, and school administrators. However, in the current U.S. climate of high-stakes assessment, teach- ers are held accountable for teaching curricular stan- dards and content that may not connect with the multiple knowledge bases, experiences, and skills that children bring from their homes and communities. Consequently, there is an unfortunate imbalance be- tween the call to account for what students learn and the need to create the classroom conditions under which they can and should learn. Stiggins (2002) de- scribed this dilemma and called for a new way of looking at classroom and student assessment: If we are finally to connect assessment to school im- provement in meaningful ways, we must come to see as- sessment through new eyes. Our failure to find a potent connection has resulted in a deep and intensifying crisis in assessment in American education. Few elected offi- cials are aware of this crisis, and almost no school offi- cials know how to address it. Our current assessment systems are harming huge numbers of students for rea- sons that few understand. And that harm arises directly from our failure to balance our use of standardized tests and classroom assessments in the service of school im- provement. When it comes to assessment, we have been trying to find answers to the wrong questions. (p. 758) The gap between the assessment of learning and for learning gap is unfortunately quite large in many of today’s classrooms, and we know that Patrick’s story in Learning Denied is not a singular or unique case. Unfortunately, there are thousands of students like
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This note was uploaded on 10/07/2009 for the course EDP 351 taught by Professor East during the Spring '09 term at West Chester.

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forOF - ASSESSMENT Balancing the Assessment of Learning and...

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