5 Types of Assessments

This week we explored several types of assessments in class and new technologies, some of which I’ve never seen or even heard of. They’re all listed below explaining their main purposes and what they entail, as well of a few words of my own addressing my thoughts on them.

DIBELS, which stands for “Dyanimic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills” is a series of short tests that assess early childhood literacy from grades K-6. It is used for assessing the acquisition of a set of literacy skills for young children, such as phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, accuracy and fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. DIBELS purpose focuses on giving elementary school students a number of quick tests so that teachers will have the data to identify students who need additional assistance so they can monitor the effectiveness of intervention strategies. Essentially, it’s main objective is to assess students to see if they are sturggling in reading and need assistance. This assessment has a sequence of one-minute tests: recognizing initial sounds (phonemic awareness), naming the letters of the alphabet (alphabetic principle), segmenting words into phonemes (phonemic awareness), reading nonsense words (alphabetic principle), oral reading of a passage (accuracy and fluency), retelling (comprehension), and word use (vocabulary). See more at

I believe that this can be a valuable format for assessing literacy skills of young students. This was actually one type of assesment that our professor, Johnell Bentz, recognized and avdocated in class recently. According to the DIBELS website at dibels.uoregon.edu, they are ranked the number one among all universities for faculty productivity in funded reserach, suggesting it is evidence-based. I also have friends whose parents are special educators and they reccomend and utilize DIBELS assessments, so I know this is prevalent in school districts throughout the US. This assessment is relatively simple to administer and is a strong technological device. Data entry includes an area to store instructional notes and add corresponding phase lines to graphs to track student response to instruction and intervention. Assessment scores are automatically entered as the student takes the assessment online you can easily track scores through the years.

Discovery Education Assessment provides teachers with the tools needed to inform instruction and drive student achievement.  Focus includes:  Where are you now? Where are you going? What is the best way to get there? and Are we on the right course? Discovery Education provides a bunch of exciting digital media to give every student a chance to experience the world. All content meets state standards, can be arranged to meet custom curriculum, and supports classroom instruction regardless of the technology platform. It offers fun things like digital textbooks and videos, as well as provides valuable assessments. See more at http://www.discoveryeducation.com/administrators/assessment/

As a future special educator, I will be constantly assessing students and tailoring my instruction to meet the individual needs of every student and I can see this being a very valuable resource. Response to Intervention (RTI) is a crucial aspect of all special education classrooms and fortunately, Discvoery Education Assessment mets those needs through their RTI screens for students at risk by monitoring progress, measuring growth, and identifying students’ responses to instruction. I’m a fan of the ‘progress Zones” aspect of the assessments provided by Discovery. It helps quickly assess and target individual student differences, make assisngments and share them with others, utilize digital content, monitor progress over the year, and display reports that show percent correct, item difficulty, and content mastery.

Individual Student Report is a feature of Discovery Education. It is a way of comparing data of students to schools, counties, and the country. It is in the form of comparison charts. Diamonds represent where other schools in the county are scoring, triangles represent where a specific child is scoring, and the goal is to have one’s child scoring above the county. Charts can indicate at what proficiency level a child scored and provides percentages of correct answers a child gave on a given test. See more at http://help.discoveryeducation.com/assets/support/Individual_Student_Report_Features_20110225.pdf

I see no issues with the product and think it can be a great tool for comparing students’ scores with others. I think a great way to make progress is to compare one to others to catch a glimpse of what’s out there.

TurningPoint AnyWhere allows you to poll from content in whiteboard software, web browsers, PDFs, Word documents and more. You can use your existing presentation or classroom materials and you don’t need to convert another program for polling. Assessment and tracking for groups or individuals is also easily accomplished with a powerful reporting engine. It’s easy to use and also fun. Users are provided the liberty to create their own questions and answers to those questions and anyone can answer with the click of a button. Simply take an “i-clickeresque” remote and select the answer you’d like. You can also make as few or as many questions as you desire and you can easily select which answer(s) are correct (if any). This is a fun way to gather data because you can request anonymous responses and engage an entire classroom. See more at http://www.turningtechnologies.com/?knc-google&gclid=CLaV1Pm_trYCFc9AMgodSlAA0w

As a teacher, I’d love to use this technology (which currently makes college courses much more enjoyable and interactive). I wish I had it in high school and pan to utilize it myself. I think it’s effective and efficient and simplistic as well. I cannot foresee any consequences or issues with using it and would like to see it in all classrooms.

Excel/Data Analysis is an easy way to basically plug in data into a spreadsheet and then transform that spreadsheet into an easy-to-read graph for visual representation. Because Microsoft Office (and of course Excel) are used in both PCs and Macs nearly everywhere, it’s a pretty universal tool that many know how to utilize, saving yourself the trouble of having to explore a foreign concept. As someone who has utilize Excel many a time, I find it pretty simplistic and I believe I’m not the only one. However, I have found some critics of this approach. Issues and concerns with the program can include: Data Analysis ToolPak is not installed with the standard version, you have to change missing values to blanks, and difficulties arranging values. As an educator, I can see this being utilized regularly. I’ve seen it utilized by the majority of my high school teachers and I feel I too will be utilizing (and it will likely be updated in the coming years). I’ve used it for numerous projects (in college) for creating graphs and taking data and I haven’t yet had any problems, so I’d recommend it to anyone at this point in time.

Assessment, and regular assessment for that matter, is imperative in the classroom. I liken it to fitness. They say it’s nearly impossible to get into one’s desired shape without regularly assessing oneself: weighing in everyday, keeping food logs, following workout schedules, etc. If you don’t make these assessments regularly, you have no way to compare where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’d like to be. With education, the same rules apply. You need to intervene and intervene early. You must assess regularly, which isn’t done through simply providing standardized tests once or twice a year- both formative and summative assessments must be provided. Summative assessments, which are given periodically to determine at a particular point in time what students do and do not know, can come in the form of: district benchmarks, end-of-chapter exams, semester exams, and scores to meet AYP (just to name a few). These can be valuable to see if a student has learned the material, conceptualized and simplified it, and retained it over an extended period of time. However, there can be countless reasons as to why a student can do poorly on any one of these at any given time. Though these are helpful, if a student is having a bad day (for a multitude of reasons), this will not suffice. On the other hand, formative assessments, which are part of the instructional process and test more frequently on smaller areas of the course material, can be very helpful because you have a larger data pool to choose from.

As a future special educator, I can’t stress enough the importance of regular assessment in the classroom. Disabilities are constantly changing and so are curriculum and the best way to check where students stand is through assessment. Many students each year enter the realm of special education and many exit, having mastered the skills they need to enter the general education scene. In order to evaluate where to place our children, assessment is key in those situations and decisions.


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