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Alternatives to Multiple Choice Tests

I'm a teacher at a charter school.   I've visited dozens of innovative schools, thinking that if I can find the right techniques, I'll be able to help my school do well.  Then I heard a key piece of testimony by Dennis Littky:  His school prospered because the Commission of Education, Peter McWalter, gave the school a chance by waiving cdertain requirements.  
For school districts to take the McWalters approach will require substantial studies into ALTERNATIVES to the Mutliple Choice Standardized test.  McWalters recommends the following people:  
 Linda-Darling Hammond from Stanford's School Redesign Network,  National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment NCIEA –Scott Marrian-out of NH,  Margaret Heritage of the Crest Center at UCLA, Elliot Washor, Dennis’ colleague, for a network.
Let's get them the funding that they need to prove the value of Alternative Assessments (other ways of checking that students have learned something).


Here is my letter to Peter McWalters
Sent: Monday, August 01, 2011 11:43 AM
To: pmcwalters@hotmail.com; Ed.D. Steve Gmail
Cc: Steve McCrea
Subject: is there a "alternative assessment" support group?
 
 
Mr. McWalters
 
 
I was going over my notes from our phone call on Friday
 
 
1.   Have you written an article or a white paper about the need for alternative assessments?
 
2.  Have you written about the Finland assessment scheme?
 
I'd like to have something that I could point to when I meet with state representatives in Florida.
 
It would be very helpful if your answers to my questions about "how do we make the world safe for innovative charter schools?"  and "how do we make the world safe for the next generation of Dennis Littkys?" could be written down.
 
 
I did a search for "innovative charter school alternative assessments"
 
 
 
FAME Independent Study Assessments
We have found that in order to get a clear picture of a student’s learning abilities we need to monitor progress throughout the school year. FAME Independent Study has adopted alternative assessments developed by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) that will help us better pinpoint our student’s learning. These assessments are administered in the fall and winter for students in grades three through ten. Parents will receive notification regarding the testing schedules from the Independent Study Teacher.
 
 



Here is Peter McWalters writng a reply:

Steve,
No, I’ve not written… but Linda-Darling Hammond from Stanford has covered the Finland (and others) practice, and the folks at the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment NCIEA – Scott Marion - out of NH, as well as Margaret Heritage of the Crest Center at UCLA are all scholars, well written  and serve as my references. Seek out Elliot Washor, Dennis’ colleague, for a network.
Peter
 
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In short, if you are a taxpayer and if you support a change in the environment, then learn more about School Redesign Network, Center for Assessment, the CRESST Center at UCLA and other advocates.







Here's a quick gathering of information in one place to get you started.


School Redesign Network







================  


National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment
NCIEA –Scott Marrian-out of NH   

nciea.org.


The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, Inc (the Center) is a small non-profit organization that occupies a unique and influential niche at the intersection of psychometrics and educational assessment policy. The Center is pleased to offer summer internships for up to two advanced doctoral students in educational measurement and/or assessment/accountability policy who want the opportunity to work with the Center’s professionals on projects with direct implications for state and national educational policy.

Scott Marion, Ph.D. Center for Assessment P.O. Box 351 Dover, NH 03821

smarion@nciea.org.




=========================================  

Margaret Heritage of the Cresst Center at UCLA, 

Margaret Heritage is Assistant Director for Professional Development at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA. Her current work at CRESST focuses on data use for school improvement, including formative assessment, and on teacher evaluation. 

Her most recent publications include a co-authored paper, published in Education Measurement: Issues and Practice, on teachers use of formative assessment evidence (2009).

ABSTRACT:  Based on the results of a generalizability study of measures of teacher knowledge for teaching mathematics developed at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing at the University of California, Los Angeles, this article provides evidence that teachers are better at drawing reasonable inferences about student levels of understanding from assessment information than they are at deciding the next instructional steps. We discuss the implications of the results for effective formative assessment and end with considerations of how teachers can be supported to know what to teach next.

Margaret Heritage is Assistant Director for Professional Development, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST), Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, 300 Charles E. Young Drive North, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1522; mheritag@ucla.edu. Jinok Kim and Terry Vendlinski are Senior Researchers at CRESST, and Joan Herman is Director of CRESST.


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Do we taxpayers need to start a group called "Taxpayers for Alternative Assessments"?  If so, we will need to point to the work of people on this page.

I hope pioneers like this get more attention in coming years.

And, since Education is Everybody's Business, it's up to taxpayers to make sure that policy makers make time to consider these proposals.



Here is a study about how Reading Apprenticeships (RA) can improve student performance.

...examination of the correlations between variables that are adjacent in the proposed mechanism and other exploratory analyses (e.g., how use of particular reading strategies relate to comprehension and writing scores) suggest that this mechanism is plausible. Specifically, it appears that the particular reading strategies emphasized by the RA program are positively related to subject-specific literacy. Moreover, the use of those strategies seems to be positively related to the sorts of instructional practices that RA teachers are trained to implement; what is more, those instructional practices appear to be related to participation in the RA professional development program.


National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) Center for the Study of Evaluation (CSE) Graduate School of Education & Information Studies University of California, Los Angeles 300 Charles E. Young Drive North GSE&IS Bldg., Box 951522 Los Angeles, CA 90095-1522 (310) 206-1532


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A message to lawmakers and Commissioners of Education:
As a taxpayer, I want people like Margaret Heritage and 
Scott Marion guiding school policy.


I hope pioneers like this get more attention in coming years.

And, since Education is Everybody's Business (the subtitle of Littky's book), it's up to taxpayers to make sure that policy makers make time to consider these proposals.


Elliot Washor, Dennis’ colleague, for a network.


Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond's winter, 2008 presentation on international practices of performance-based assessment, and how these practices compare with American assessments. Rife with implications for NCLB reform (or better still, abolition).

From the Forum for Education and Democracy's blurb:
What we have thought of as fairly rare in this country [i.e., the USA] is quite common in most of the high-achieving countries internationally, Linda Darling-Hammond began. (See her presentation here.) Beginning with a list of 21st century skills, Darling-Hammond contrasted US tests - which require recall of a simple fact or ask students for a one-sentence explanation - with exams abroad that include designing science experiments, refining computer programs and explaining the reasoning behind solutions for complex problems. [In many nations,] theres a teaching and learning system, that operates to provide rich curriculum and strong outcomes, Darling-Hammond said. They are what assure that the higher-order skills are actually taught and practiced.




Stanford University professor and noted researcher Linda Darling-Hammond discusses what the United States can learn from high-achieving countries on teaching, learning, and assessment -- from Finland to Singapore. For more information and resources, visit http://www.edutopia.org




Jamie McKenzie has written widely about "The Guide on the Side."  here is an excerpt from a presentation







































































































HOw do you define "formative assessment"?
From Wikipedia:

Formative assessment is typically contrasted with summative assessment. The former supports teachers and students in decision-making during educational and learning processes, while the latter occurs at the end of a learning unit and determines if the content being taught was retained Ainsworth p. 23 (2006)[7]


On-going tests (tests while we're learning)

versus

Tests at the end of the course.


Formative assessment is not distinguished by the format of assessment, but by how the information is used. The same test may act as either formative or summative. However, some methods of assessment are better suited to one or the other purpose.[8]


EXAMPLE:

... a brainstorm activity:  "Work in small groups -- write five things that you know about how hot-air balloons work"  ...
so that the teacher can discover what students already know about the area of science she is intending to teach   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formative_assessment
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