Thursday, November 26, 2009

On Assessment...

When I was offered the position of Kindergarten teacher, I was also asked to set my two orientation dates so that these dates could be given to the prospective families of four and five year olds. I asked my Board why two orientation days were imposed, with their response being a need to test for readiness. I was astonished and initially, did not react outwardly. I did, however, start to consider what would be the purpose of testing five year olds…

Why does a teacher test?

Teachers test for a variety of reasons, I have come to realize. Sometimes we feel that we are mandated to test and that we are ordered to use certain testing tools, guidelines and/or ways of communicating the results of those tests. At other times, we feel the need to move from one step with a child to the next and we know no other way of conducting this then using a form of testing.

Or do we?

Even though I did not answer my Board immediately, I did make an instant decision, that although I would happily run two days of Kindergarten Orientation, I would not be complying with formal testing. The only kind of assessing I would be conducting would surround prominent learning styles and emotional needs. I would be opening up a place for children to feel welcome, safe, engaged and in control of their own learning and hopefully they would feel as if they belonged not only in that place called Kindergarten but also with me.

…Ellyn

Many interesting changes are occurring with regard to assessment. Be it authentic or otherwise. Thanks to Dean Shareski, the following is a link to Prairie South School Division in Saskatchewan and their current assessment directive - http://www.prairiesouth.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=245&Itemid=335

2 comments:

dave said...

I'm not sure even the learning style isn't going too far. I don't personally believe in them, but, assuming one did, is five years old when we want to start pidgeon holing people into how they 'prefer' to learn?

Ellyn Schaffner said...

Thanks for your comment Dave... Teaching 5 year olds is so unique because they are little artists, little scientists, little writers etc. and it is as they move through school that they begin to drop off these ways of being... is it because we value or devalue the way they approach, process and respond or for another reason? No pidgeon holing is necessary... kids demonstrate their preferred way of learning around this time and ask to learn in that way - I hope that I recognized and honoured and offered many ways...