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Classroom Assessment and the National Science Education Standards
the other. Ms. R brought in sixth graders to assist her third graders while they made instruments. Even though help was provided to handle materials and supplies, the older students also could have been more vocal in the design and construction of the instruments.
Assessment Data Management
Although teachers make assessments all the time, it is important that they develop a system for gathering data about student understanding and progress. This way, no child is overlooked and teachers can be sure that they focus on what they think are the most important learning goals and outcomes. The specific system certainly can vary, depending on a teacher's experience and preferences in gathering such information.
Relying on memory can be difficult with more than 150 students, with many activities, interactions, and observations and over the course of many months before summative evaluations call for the use of such information. One teacher might carry a clipboard while circulating around the room to record comments and observations. Each student has an index card on which to write questions or request an opportunity to speak with the teacher rather than to interrupt. Each day, the teacher observes a handful of students at work but this does not prevent the recording of information from conversations overheard in the room. This method of collecting data not only helps to organize the teaching but also serves as pertinent information when talking with parents and students. In a review of the relevant research in this area, Fuchs and Fuchs (1986) reported that student achievement gains were significantly larger (twice the effect size) when teachers used a regular and systematic method for recording and interpreting assessment data and providing feedback as compared to when they made spontaneous decisions.
In addition to making good use of the data, keeping good records of day-to-day assessments also is important for summative purposes. When meeting with parents or students, it is helpful to have notes of concrete examples and situations to help convey a point. Good records also can serve to address issues of accountability, a topic that will be discussed in the next chapter.
THE EQUITY PRINCIPLE
The Standards were written with the belief that all students should be expected to strive for and to achieve high standards. According to the Standards, in addition to being developmentally appropriate, “assessment tasks must be set in a variety of contexts, be engaging to students with different interests and experiences, and must not assume the perspective