Categories of Evaluation

Different methods of evaluation are needed to truly assess how much your students are learning. Learn here the different types of evaluation you can use in the classroom. New teachers will find this resource particularly valuable.
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Updated on: January 25, 2007
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Portfolio Assessment

Expert Opinion

The types of items that can be included in a portfolio are limitless, but they should include representative samples of each student's work over time.

By definition, a portfolio is a coordinated assembly of past and present work that provides the viewer with a definitive and representational look at an artist's work and talent. Through a portfolio, an artist can collect a variety of work to reveal not only the depth of his or her talent but the breadth as well.

Portfolios are useful in the classroom, too. They are more than a haphazard group of papers and tests; instead, they demonstrate the talents and skills of individual students while demonstrating that student's growth record (and resulting progress) over a period of time.

Portfolios can be as simple as a single file folder for each student or as complex as a series of mailbox compartments set up in a corner of the classroom. Included in each portfolio can be the following (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Examples of the student's work in progress

  • Dated progress notes written by the teacher

  • Dated progress notes written by the student

  • Dated progress notes written by the parent(s)

  • Work samples selected by the teacher

  • Work samples selected by the student

  • Self-evaluation forms completed by the student

  • Anecdotal and observational records maintained by the teacher

  • Photographs/illustrations of completed projects

  • Audio- or videotapes of selected work

  • Experiment or project logs

  • Tests, quizzes, and/or exams

  • Written work of any kind

  • Lists of books or outside materials read

The advantage of portfolios is that they provide teachers, students, administrators, and parents with a vehicle to document growth and a forum to discuss and share that growth as well as procedures and processes that might stimulate further growth. Although they are useful in terms of parent/teacher conferences, they are more beneficial in terms of teacher/student conferences. In a sense, portfolios personalize the evaluation process, making it dynamic and relevant to the lives of students and useful to the planning and design of successful lessons.

Student Self-Evaluation

The effective classroom program involves students in each and every aspect of that program—and that includes evaluation.

Self-evaluation can take many forms. Simplest of all would be in the context of student/teacher discussions. Teacher/student conferences allow you to pose several types of questions that provide opportunities for students to “look inward” and gauge their learning. Here are some examples:

It's Elementary

When younger students participate in evaluating their own progress, they begin to develop an internal sense of responsibility, which helps them assume control over their learning.

  • “Tell me about the way you worked.”

  • “Tell me about some discoveries you've made.”

  • “Tell me about some of the things that didn't go well for you.”

  • “Tell me about some of the things that gave you trouble.”

  • “What comments would you like to make about your behavior?”

  • “What were some things you could do for yourself?”

  • “What were some things you needed help with?”

High-Stakes Testing

Simply stated, high-stakes testing is when students are given a standardized test, the results of which are rewarded in some way. Failing the test might have negative consequences (or rewards), too. For example, in California, students must pass the California High School Exit Examination to graduate. If they don't pass, they don't graduate. Thus, when some sort of reward system is attached to a standardized test, that test becomes a high-stakes test. SATs (Standardized Achievement Test) and ACTs (American College Testing) are good examples of high-stakes testing because the “reward” is often admission into college.

Various types of federal legislation, such as Title I and the No Child Left Behind Act, require states to administer standardized tests to select groups of students. Often students' achievement on these tests determines the amount of funding or financial reimbursement a school, district, or state will receive from the federal government.

As a classroom teacher, you have little control over the use of high-stakes testing. You may be required to administer these tests whether or not you agree with them. In fact, in many districts, these tests are used to evaluate individual teacher performance. Suffice it to say, these tests will impact you and the kind of instruction you provide for a long time to come.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I like to think of evaluation as a process that offers opportunities for growth—teacher growth, student growth, and program growth. It's one thing to assess and evaluate student performance; it's quite another to do something with that information. If all you do is administer an endless bank of tests, checklists, and self-evaluative forms and do nothing with the results, then your evaluation is close to worthless. The data you gather from all forms of evaluation should be used productively to help students develop the skills, processes, and attitudes that help make learning an important part of their lives.

Evaluation is an integral part of the learning process. As such, it must be sensitive to the needs, attitudes, and abilities of individual students as well as the class as a whole. Be careful that you do not over-rely on one or more forms of evaluation just because they are easy or convenient for you. Be aware that evaluation involves some part of a student's self-esteem, and that affective factors are an important ingredient in evaluation. In other words, what you evaluate is just as important as how you evaluate.

Excerpted from

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Teacher
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Teacher
Anthony D. Fredericks, Ed.D.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Teacher © 2005 by Anthony D. Fredericks. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.
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