Student Assessment: definition
The problem of evaluating the knowledge and skills of students became relevant even when the first schools appeared. At all times, students who demonstrate positive learning outcomes and meet the academic expectations of teachers are encouraged through praise, estimations, or public discussion of their professionalism and personal qualities that contribute to this dynamic.
It must be recognized that assessment in itself is not the ultimate learning object. On the contrary, if one considers assessment systems to be comprehensive models, one should highlight a number of goals that they have.
Student Assessment: objectives
Undoubtedly, each of the professional teachers is free to choose their purposes of assessment; nevertheless, six priority options are presented below:
- identifying learning difficulties;
- providing feedback;
- developing motivation;
- prediction and selection;
- monitoring and enforcement of standards;
- control over the content of the educational program and style of teaching and learning.
Evaluation Standards and Models
Although standards vary significantly among pre-school children, most of them have only one mission: to help the teacher learn about pupils and the environment inside the classroom. Thus, there is a wide variety of assessment standards, to name just a few:
DIBELS, Developmental Reading Assessment, teaching strategies GOLD, High Scope, COR
As part of this work, it is proposed to discuss and compare two tools that instructors can use in everyday practice to assess students’ phonemic awareness, namely DIBELS and High Scope.
Phonemic Awareness: notes
Even before the child has mastered the reading skills and knowledge of the native language, they make attempts to understand speech. Children try to tune in to the pronounced sounds and repeat some of them without understanding their meaning. Combines all the different manifestations of this stage, a term that is called phonemic awareness.
Thanks to numerous studies, early education specialists have concluded that earlier mastering the basics of awareness allows a child to more easily learn the knowledge taught at school: grammar, reading, and writing. This means that for the harmonious and anticipatory development of a child, the parent and teacher must help the child at an early age. Meanwhile, the assessment models discussed in this paper allow evaluating the results of mastering phonemic awareness and taking decisive steps.
The foundation of this model is the idea that early intervention and support for children with literacy difficulties is crucial to the child’s academic development. DIBELS are the standard of assessment using short one-minute tests, traditionally performed either by the child’s parents or by the instructor on an individual basis.
A unique feature of DIBELS is the frequency of assessment, as tests are given to children regularly to monitor the overall dynamics of knowledge change. Thus, phonemic awareness is to be measured in kindergarten and early elementary school. An example of what assessment can look like for early education:
A comprehensive assessment approach that takes into account all sorts of child’s interactions, personal qualities, learning environment, and program management: these factors determine the High Scope standard. COR Advantage is one of the units of the standard, which evaluates a child’s development from birth to 6 years by 34 points, covering all aspects of the child’s health. Moreover, High Scope does not focus on the age of the child, but on specific skills, then this program is suitable for measuring the skills and knowledge of students with special needs.
As stated by the program developers, it is a reliable, peer-reviewed assessment system that will be useful for all teachers. In addition, the official website provides a direct link to a closed, user-friendly platform that will be an excellent companion tool for learning.
Context of phonemic awareness
By the rules of this standard, phonemic awareness begins to be measured at the kindergarten stage. The evaluation takes place at least three times a year. If a preschooler has problems with learning awareness, it must be monitored 1 or 2 times a month. DIBELS evaluates fluency of sound and segmentation of phonemes.
The standard allows the teacher to perform multiple assessments by segmentation of phonemes, measuring rhyme mastery and alliteration. The teacher’s specific tools are photos, videos, and notes: these materials are used to study a child’s progress and to hide the approach. High Scope encourages the use of different technologies for learning the material, including interactive ones or art.
DIBELS and High Scope: advantages
There are several reasons why DIBELS is a good program. It covers most areas of early literacy and has a low cost. In addition, the grading differentiation allows for the precise identification of students’ weaknesses. Finally, the test takes very little time: about 10 minutes per student.
The information is collected in real-time, allowing the teacher to track the dynamics. The scale tries to assess the overall picture of the child’s progress without focusing on their socio-economic status. In addition, High Scope helps children from low-income families become successful in their future life. The standard allows combining study with play.
DIBELS and High Scope: disadvantages
On the other hand, DIBELS is not without drawbacks. Still, quite frequent frequency of assessment can be a problem for teachers who do not want to waste time in such a way. Moreover, the test’s logic includes non-existing words, which can be a problem for the students. The test’s individuality is a problem since it increases the amount of work the teacher has to do.
At the same time, High Scope is quite an expensive tool, and in case of a big class, the school will have to spend much money. Moreover, the variety of the test is a problem because it increases the amount of “paper” work. The old versions of the online platform did not allow using the full potential of the assessment.
Children with Special Needs
The most recent eighth edition of the standards provides support for children with special needs, including those with delayed speech development. Tests for fluency in reading meaningless words, quick naming, familiar words, testing the ability to read words: these tools have become an integral part of the new DIBELS, which helps to recognize dyslexia and other developmental problems.
The standard allows teaching children with severe disabilities, including those with autism spectrum disorders. Since the curriculum is designed to individualized approach, students with special needs can be given the great attention they need to master the material. It should be noted that combining lessons with game formats requires instructors to provide separate assistance to children who cannot play sounds or read syllables.
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