double the speed of student learning

“Five reviews of the research in this area synthesized a total of more than 4,000 research studies undertaken during the last 40 years. The conclusion was clear: When implemented well, formative assessment can effectively double the speed of student learning.” (Wiliam, Educational Leadership, 2007-2008)

Emphasis is mine. Formative assessment and classroom assessment are the same thing just different names.

I continue to ask myself why it is that when I and my friend Eric Johnson first learned about classroom assessment we said to ourselves, “Wow! This will make a huge difference in the way I teach. If only I had known how to do this a long time ago.” We were totally excited about the possibilities. Most teaching artists I talk with feel there just isn’t time for assessment during their lesson – they have to get the project done. Or they feel it doesn’t have anything to do with their teaching – “not applicable.”

I understand that the expectation of most teachers artists work with is that there will be a finished product at the end of the lesson. I think visual artists deal with this more that performing artists. And I think we can advocate for teaching the fundamental skills and knowledge of our art form however that is best accomplished.

As I said in an earlier post, “for learning,” I took a two day workshop from W. James Popham in June. I fine tuned my understanding of classroom assessment in his workshop.

Popham commented that, “If this was called ‘instruction’ instead of ‘assessment’ we wouldn’t have lost so many.”

He said you are assessing the critical elements students need to know/be able to do to go forward. “Focus on the requisite not the desirable”

We spent most of the workshop on learning progressions which help you decide what must be assessed. If anyone would like to learn more about these leave a comment and I’ll contact you.

Here’s a paraphrase of what Popham left us with at the end of the workshop.
If there was a vaccine that would save thousands of children’s lives and doctors knew this but just didn’t get around to using it. How would you feel as a parent?
If there was a process that would help thousands of students learn better and teachers knew this but just didn’t get around to using it. How would you feel as a parent?

For those who are asking, “Who is this Popham guy?” I have included the beginning of his abbreviated vita.

Professor Emeritus, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies

W. James Popham has spent the bulk of his educational career as a teacher. His first teaching assignment, for example, was in a small eastern Oregon high school where he taught English and social studies while serving as yearbook advisor, class sponsor, and unpaid tennis coach. That recompense meshed ideally with the quality of his coaching.

Most of Dr. Popham’s teaching career took place at UCLA where, for nearly 30 years, he taught courses in instructional methods for prospective teachers as well as courses in evaluation and measurement for graduate students. At UCLA he won several distinguished teaching awards. In January 2000, he was recognized by UCLA Today as one of UCLA’s top 20 professors of the 20th century. (He notes that the 20th century was a full-length century, unlike the current abbreviated one.) In 1992, he took early retirement from UCLA upon learning that emeritus professors received free parking.

He goes on to list his numerous publications, professional affiliations and other awards in the same vein.

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