Formative Assessment

In education process, assessment is critical. Formative assessment is an intentional and systematic process, used by instructors to get immediate feedback about continuing teaching and learning, to enhance student achievement of the intended learning objectives (Heritage & Stigler, 2010). Within the instructional setting, formative assessment involves frequent and interactive assessments with the aim of evaluating student progress. Similarly, teachers also use the assessment to identify learning needs of the learners and adjust instructional strategy appropriately. In order to make meaningful understanding of formative assessment and its application, this study will analyze a Science Grade Book formative assessment to determine student performance and evaluate its appropriateness as a measurement instrument.

Formative Assessment Data Analysis

Ideally, the information gathered from the formative assessment data can be assessed by answering three questions. Firstly, did the students meet the standards of the learning objectives? From the data provided the majority of the students’ established sound performance in the test. It is also evident that the students who did not meet the average score have various learning difficulties. Secondly, how do the students compare with their peers? A close analysis of the formative assessment data shows that, except the students who scored 50 and 33 percent, the rest of the students performed within average. Similarly, two outstanding students scored 100 percent. The third question seeks to compare students with the best of their peers. The best in the class were two students who scored 100 percent; after a close comparison with the rest of the students; the students’ level of understanding is above average. Nonetheless, it is also important to note that, the students have the potential for improvement and the teacher must come up with possible solutions to these issues and concerns. In addition to the above, the data shows that majority of the students were able to understand, retain information, and apply the knowledge acquired in the test. The information also provides the teacher with a better understanding of the students they should focus on, address the issues they are struggling with, and ensure common understanding. 

Appropriateness of the Formative Assessment 

Within the instructional setting, formative assessment is a powerful tool when communicated correctly. Heritage & Stigler note that, formative assessment not only helps to generate good results for the low achievers but also empowers the teacher to concentrate on specific problems and a clear understanding of what is wrong and determine achievable targets. To understand the appropriateness of the formative assessment as a measurement instrument, we first look at the learning objectives, curriculum standards, and curriculum content. The curriculum standards on science as an inquiry expect students to develop the necessary abilities to do a scientific research and have a clear understanding of scientific inquiry. The curriculum standards on history and nature of science expect students to develop an understanding of science as a human endeavor and its history. The objectives of the learning activity expect learners to demonstrate competency in human qualities and scientific habits of mind of the famous scientists. Identify scientific questions and data collection methods, and participate in groups activities for effective learning. The curriculum content aligns with the learning objectives and the curriculum standards. In this context, the formative assessment is an appropriate measurement instrument in that; it tests the students’ knowledge on the information about the scientists and their particular contributions to the world. The assessment helps highlight the knowledge of the students on specific abilities, skills, and lives of the scientists, a key point from which the students will base their scientific inquiries. Similarly, and in relation to the learning objectives, the formative assessment provides the students with the knowledge to be able to participate in the group discussion that forms the basis for the summative evaluation.

Alignment between the curriculum content and the formative-assessment data

Articulating and aligning the curriculum content is a complex activity that demands the cooperation and collaboration of education stakeholders. Nonetheless, formative assessment can be used within the instructional setting, school, and policy levels to identify the areas of improvement and enhance effective and constructive learning. Most importantly, consistent application of formative assessment can help stakeholders address the barriers to curriculum content delivery. In light of this, this overview shows how formative assessment promotes the improvement of the curriculum content for lifelong learning goals, higher levels of achievement, and greater equity among student learning outcomes. The student performance from the formative assessment was used to motivate and enable the teacher to adjust the curriculum content to close the gaps in equity of student outcomes. In order to accomplish this, the teacher used the formative assessment to establish underlying factors that led to the variations in student achievement in the particular area. Such include areas of strengths and weakness across the students, which guided the teacher in adjusting the curriculum content to address the identified needs and effectively promote equity among the learners. Most importantly, the alignment between the curriculum content and formative assessment enabled the teacher to modify the groups and align the students accordingly. 

Recommended Modification and its Appropriateness

In the learning environment, changing the curriculum content has been regarded an effective way to incorporate more accessible learning environments and enhance support for all the students (Knapp & Turnbull, 2014). However, curriculum modification should not be mistaken with curriculum enhancement in that change is an extreme alteration to the curriculum. In essence, curriculum modification involves adjusting the expectations of the learning outcomes to meet student needs. Practically, there are numerous ways to practice curriculum content changes. As conceptualized along this continuum, the most feasible and viable curriculum modification for the Science Grade Book is accommodation and adaptation. When using accommodation, Smart (2009) notes that, changes will be made on the delivery of instruction and student performance, without changing the content of the curriculum. This means, the tasks, and the difficulty level of the activities remain the same, but the teacher introduces assistive technologies or materials to allow the students compete at the same level with their peers. For instance, for the English language Learner who scored 33 percent and the learner with Asperger’s disorder, the teacher can assign a book with auditory support to help them acquire the same content knowledge as other students. Unfortunately, this method is known for causing lag-behind in the delivery of curriculum content. Alternatively, the teacher could provide content-alteration by simplifying the content, without necessary needing the student to acquire the English language. Nonetheless, proficiency in the English language is a powerful tool and should not be disregarded. On the other hand, adaptation does not change the content but changes the conceptual difficulty of the content of the curriculum (Blatchford, Chan, Maurice, 2016). In particular, adaptation is a goal-driven strategy, which requires the teacher to specific intended learning outcomes for individual’s students, uses differential instructional materials, and learning activities for the student. In this case, adaptation is applicable for the ELL student. The teacher can modify the content of writing and include a variation in the number of tasks that the student should handle. In essence, adaptation should be practiced when the teacher is content that a student can learn the same content knowledge as others with a slight change.

Effectiveness of Instructional Strategy used in the Science Grade Book – 

(Cooperative Learning)

Instructional strategies are procedures used by teachers to nurture students into becoming strategic and independent learners. Essentially, there are several instructional strategies each differing according to their appropriateness and effectiveness in the delivery of curriculum content within the instructional setting. In order to evaluate the efficiency of the instructional strategies used in the Science Grade book as measured by the formative-assessment data, we must first identify the instructional strategy used in the lesson plan – cooperative learning. In its simplest definition, cooperative learning is also referred to as small-group learning, in which small groups of students work together on a common task (Killen, 2006). In the Science Grade Book, each student is assigned a role to play in the team, and they are responsible for helping each other in learning. The roles are well outlined, and each student is expected to use their interpersonal skills to communicate and work collectively. During the learning activity, each member must contribute to the task, listen to other members ideas, encourage others to participate, ask when necessary, and stay on the task for effective collaboration. The effectiveness of the instructional strategy lies on the positive interdependence, which allows the students to be responsible for their own and group members’ learning. Besides, cooperative learning encourages student discussion and active learning. Besides, it also harnesses student achievement, confidence, and increased motivation.

Recommended Modification and its Appropriateness

The use of cooperative instructional strategy in the instructional setting allows the instructor to support learning in a valuable way critical for effective learning. Killen notes that in cooperative learning, working together and supporting each other in learning and discovery is necessary for the instructional strategy to be effective. Nevertheless, to enhance the student independent learning skills, increase student accountability, and its effectiveness, modifications are necessary. For instance, the teacher could have started by introducing new vocabularies before the beginning of the lesson. By introducing new vocabularies, the teacher ensures that the students are familiar with the words and can easily follow with the learning. Another modification that the teacher could have made to help the students is by changing the rules to accommodate the needs of the learners. As mentioned earlier, the teacher could modify the learning outcomes or the content of curriculum to ensure equity during the assessment. Along with that, apart from the poster on the classroom wall, the teacher could introduce more visuals in the form of flip charts or multimedia presentations with the important concept to act as a guide or a reference point for the students. Lastly, instead of first assembling the students into small groups, the teacher should first have conducted a large group discussion to allow the students share their ideas in the classroom. The teacher would also have a chance to make corrections before grouping them into small teams for discussion and assessment. 

References

Blatchford, P., Chan, K. W., Maurice, G., Lai, K. C., & Li, Z. (2016). Class size: Eastern and Western perspectives. London: Routledge. 

Heritage, M., & Stigler, J. W. (2010). Formative assessment: Making it happen in the classroom. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin.

Killen, R. (2006). Effective teaching strategies. South Melbourne, Vic: Thomson Learning Australia.

Knapp, J., & Turnbull, C. (2014). An ABA Curriculum for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Aged Approximately 1-4 Years: A Step-by-Step Treatment Manual Including Supporting Materials for Teaching 140 Foundational Skills. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Smart, J. C. (2009). Higher education: Handbook of theory and research. Dordrecht: Springer.

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