Standard 5: Assessment

The teacher uses multiple methods of assessment to engage learners in their own growth, monitor learner progress, guide planning and instruction, and determine whether the outcomes described in content standards have been met.

One of the teaching beliefs that I have developed during my course of study is

that one test should never make or break a student.  When I was an undergraduate, I 

showed up for an end-of-term exam, only to see my classmates streaming out.  I had shown up for

the wrong testing slot.  I was devastated.  I thought I would fail the class after working so hard to

maintain an A all semester.  The professor told me that everyone makes mistakes and she 

scheduled a time to give me the slides for the exam.  There was no penalty on my 

grade and I have never forgotten the incident.  It was so starkly different from high 

school when I remember being told that final tests and final papers came with 

immutable due dates that could make or break our grades.  

These experiences have made me think about what the real purpose of 

assessment is (or should be).  I believe that the purpose of any assessment should be 

to display what students can and cannot do.  To show what they have learned and 

tells teachers what they still need to learn.  Teachers should use assessments to gain 

valuable insight into how successful their lessons have been, so that they can plan 

future instruction based on what students are able to do.  I do not think being inflexible

teaches responsibility.  

In the functional skills class I designed for student teaching, I emphasized 

formative assessment.  At the secondary level, I am very aware of how little 

instructional time students have left.  Therefore, I wanted immediate feedback so 

that I do not waste time teaching if students did not understand a concept.  In the 

beginning of the placement, I worked to learn about each student’s communication 

needs and preferences.  Establishing effective communication was the most 

important step I took before assessing students.  In the functional skills classroom, 

students’ reliance on different communication methods, such as speech and writing, 

varied widely.  Therefore, I could not choose a single method of assessment for the 

entire class. 

For one weekly lesson that I taught, I allowed students to write and draw 

their responses based on their preferences.  I learned so much reviewing their 

artifacts from these lessons.  I learned about students’ writing and thinking.  I 

learned about what struck them the most from the information I presented.  

Additionally, the writing and drawing allowed me to learn more about students who 

did not use much communicative speech.

Special Education demands that teachers continually assess and reassess 

their instruction methods. Effective Special Educators need to view the assessment 

results as reflections of their own pedagogy much more than they view them as 

reflections on students’ work ethics.