35013899 - All About Assessment W James Popham The...

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80 E DUCATIONAL L EADERSHIP/NOVEMBER 2008 T his issue of Educational Leadership stresses the importance of giving students owner- ship of learning. That’s an unarguably good thing to do. But it carries with it a corol- lary requirement—namely, that students who don’t understand something really can’t own it. These days, as never before, teachers rely on evidence from students’ scores on state, district, and classroom tests to help them monitor their students progress and make instructional deci- sions. But if students don’t know where those progress-monitoring scores came from—or whether they’re accurate—how can they truly own their learning? So what do students really need to know about tests? Well, I recently received an e-mail from a reader in Arizona who asked me to lay out “a modest set of basic concepts about assessment that all students should know.” Here’s what I suggested. First, start off with the funda- mental function of educational assessment: namely, to collect overt evidence from students that permits teachers, parents, and students alike to make inferences about students’ covert knowl- edge, skills, and affect. Let students know that assessment validity refers to those inferences and not to the tests themselves. If students realize that frequently fallible grown-ups make inferences about students’ learning progress—or lack of it—on the basis of students’ test scores, they’ll be less likely to ascribe unwarranted accuracy to the scores yielded by what someone has erroneously told them is “a valid test.”
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35013899 - All About Assessment W James Popham The...

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