What We Know and What We Don’t Know
The simplest definition of assessment is the gathering of information to make decisions about a student’s learning. From this perspective everything that a child does in school may be assessed in some way. Classroom-based assessments include a variety of informal to formal and formative to summative activities. Below are a few examples of assessment activities in each of these four categories:
|Formative||Group discussion||Demonstrating the steps to use a microscope|
|Summative||“ticket to leave”||Unit exam|
Specific assessment activities may be on a continuum within these categories. The differences between each assessment is related to the purpose of and the data gained from each activity. Informal assessments help teachers gauge where students are in their progress towards mastery of a topic. Formal assessments are used to evaluate student outcomes and achievement of that topic. Teachers should use a variety of activities in each category to better understand students’ progress and ultimately, their mastery. Some assessments are easier to construct than others, but teachers usually have flexibility in the kind of activities they do and can modify them to meet each DHH child’s language and learning needs. Standardized assessments, however, are always formal, summative activities. While professionals have little or no control in how they are constructed or administered, teachers and support service professionals must help their students prepare for taking these tests.
Many standardized assessments have been developed and normed with samples of hearing children whose primary language is English. Often these tests rely heavily on students’ ability to read and write and/or listen and speak English. In these situations, accommodations for standardized tests may include providing alternative modalities for test administration and responses. Another complicating factor in standardized testing is the type(s) of skills the test is designed to assess. The Common Core State Standards English Language Arts test, for example, includes reading comprehension and reasoning skills within the same question. Given the range of communication needs and preferences of DHH children as well as possible cognitive differences among DHH children with additional disabilities, it is unclear the extent to which these assessments provide valid and reliable data. Language accommodations alone may not optimize students’ academic performance on these tests. Today more tests are being developed, normed, and/or adapted for use with DHH learners.
Posted on June 25, 2020 by
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Rochester Institute of Technology