Minh Nguyen Journal 4 ELC 689 February, 8th 2010 What I have learned for the first four weeks of the course has prompted me to initiate new policies in testing administration together with training workshops for teachers in my division. The aims are to work toward better quality test practice: using tests for reflection on students’ progress rather than failing or passing students and improving the present test giving practice in weak areas such as validity, reliability, wash back.
My reflection on the three testing models is that we should move from the model with mid-term plus final assessment to the model where the assessment process is parallel to the teaching/learning process through the course. To achieve this aim new policies should emphasize the assessment component in the professional activity package for novice teachers to qualify test developers. The assessment plan is expected to empower the teaching staff with relevant knowledge and skills so that they can integrate assessment into learning process and improve the quality of all assessment.
Once sufficient training has been provided more diagnostic and formative assessment will be introduced to the instructional program. More alternative forms e. g. portfolio, surveys will be employed as these assessments ask students to perform, create, produce or do something; thus tap more sophisticated thinking and problem solving skills (Herman, Aschbacher and Winters, 1992). Instructors also need to train students to enable them to initiate self-assessment when required.
It must be pointed out that making assessment one integral part of learning will be a long-term aim as alternative assessment requires new instructional and assessment roles for teachers (Herman, Aschbacher and Winters, 1992), which suggests a high level of training. To improve test quality workshops given by experts from other schools as well as experienced teaching staff should be organized. They should be practical in nature with the purpose of developing good tests from available sources.
Besides training they, together with trainees, could help by finalizing test developing checklists. For example, assessments should be meaningful tasks, related to personal objectives and contextualized. To secure more reliability, marking criteria, especially for writing and speaking, should be double-checked by experienced test developers and administration procedures between classes need to be better standardized (Coombe, Folse & Hubley, 2007). Discussion as well as moderation should precede the marking sessions for productive skills.
Listening sections which involve language production such as dictation and re-production should call for discussion and moderation too. Additionally, validity is the area that needs more attention especially in listening and reading, where it is more difficult to specify students’ characteristics and come up with the right specifications. For writing, topics and contexts should be given more work as they are easily affected by cultural bias. It would further help if procedures in developing tests were elaborated with clear instructions about each stage, e. g. pecifications must be consulted before the test development process (Coombe, Folse & Hubley, 2007). Other problems in the present test making practice as revealed in my test critique such as inadequate care given to the issues of background knowledge, skill contamination, backwash (Coombe, Folse & Hubley, 2007) should be all given due care. The suggested policies and training will definitely benefit the students. As new assessment is aimed at identifying students’ progress the instructors will know the students better and become more effective in assisting them.
For example, teachers can plan more effective lessons and more regular feedback will be provided to the learners to direct their learning. Effective feedback procedure will make tests a critical link in teaching (Angelo & Cross, 1993). Classroom assessment as a feature of the instructional program will help students to know areas that they need to concentrate on and make their decisions accordingly. The new assessment practice is also intended to take the students away from cramming for international tests like IELTS, TOEFL and direct them toward more real and more enjoyable learning experience.
The learners will become better motivated and their participation and self-reflection are both expected to improve as in the case of portfolio (Paulson, Paulson, and Mayer, 1991). The new practice will also attach a more active role to the students, for example as in self-assessment. They may need to go through training and stay more pro-active in all other types of assessment. Improved tests, which observe validity, reliability, authenticity, washback, etc. will gauge the students more precisely, giving a more accurate reflection of their strengths and weaknesses as well as create opportunities for them to perform to the best.
Hopefully the students will not be shocked with tests de manding background knowledge that they have not acquired as consideration of this aspect is one important indication of good tests (Bailey, 1998). High-quality tests with feedback potential will provide test takers with much more relevant information (Cohen, 1994). Teaching will reflect the changes in assessing practice with more room reserved for classroom assessment, feedback, response to feedback, etc. It will be demanding to teachers considering the extra amount of work.
It could also be inspiring as the teachers may be motivated with the new challenge, which could help them to “chart sequence and pace of future instructional activities” (Angelo & Cross, 1993). Besides as the new assessment informs the teachers of the strengths as well as weaknesses of the learners and the instructional programs, teaching are expected to be more flexible to accommodate all this. In other words once the teacher has obtained the answers to the questions they themselves have formulated in response to issues or problems in their own teaching through assessment they can revise the program for a better output.
In conclusion, the lesson learned from the very first parts of the course is very useful in my case. It suggests directions for future professional development as well as guidelines on how to execute the plan. It is also inspiring as benefits to learners are clear and possible impacts to teaching could be predicted. The future project where colleagues have the opportunity to collaborate and actively involve students in classroom assessment efforts will enhance teaching and personal satisfaction. References Angelo, T. & Cross, P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques.
San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers Bailey, K. (1998). Learning about language assessment. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle. Cohen, A. (1994). Assessing language ability in the classroom (2nd ed. ). Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle. Coombe, C. , Folse, K. & Hubley, N. (2007). A Practical guide to assessing English language learners. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press Herman, J. L, Aschbacher, P. R & Winters, L. (1992). A Practical guide to alternative assessment. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Paulson, L. F. , Paulson P. R. & Meyer C. (1991). What makes a portfolio a portfolio? Educational Leadership. 48(5), 60-63 98 out of 100. 0 Comments Minh: This is by far an outstanding response. I especially like your attempt to reduce or at least minimize cramming. In addition, you used APA reference format well. The list of references at end is correct. That you used all these citations is evidence that you have read all the information in the units. Excellent work. Much of what you have written will benefit the interaction on the Discussion Board. Use of language is effective. Dr. Taylor A+.