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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Formative and Summative Assessments #edchat

OK, so most of the time I cannot particpate in the twitter #edchat on Tuesday nights because I have activities that I am participating in. So, for a few months I've thought of making a blog entry for the topic of the week and then posting a link to it on the #edchat. So, this is my first attp at this.

Even though this blog is mostly about teaching the IC3 exams, I feel that this weeks topic is a great topic for my blog as well.

The IC3 exams would be considered a Summative assessment while the Practice Tests I use in class as well as the trainings I have mentioned before would be part of the Formative. However, I can also see that the actual IC3 exams could be used for Formative assessment as well. The reason I say this is because the exam will give you an idea of what you may have failed and so you can go back and study that topic and return to the exam again. It is a great example of Assessment for Learning.

In the past when I've had my students taking the exams I have paid for them one at a time either out of my pocket or out of class fees. This made it very difficult to have every student take the exams and if they failed then it was even more expensive for me to have them retake it. However, this year Certiport has created a new system where I paid a yearly fee and I can have unlimited exams for my students. This has totally changed the way I teach my class. I used to require certain students to pass the IC3 based on their proficiency in class. Now, I am requiring it for all of my students. Since it is unlimited I can have them go back and study the topics again and return to take the exam.

I have had one student this semester that failed one of the exams, returned to the Practice Tests, asked questions, and then re-took the exam. He passed it. I just had another student fail one of the exams today and we went over his results (the IC3 exams never show you if you got a question correct or not, it just gives you your overall score and the score you received on each of the main topics). We could see where he was almost passing one or two of the topics and now he knows where he needs to study. I know he will be able to come back and pass the exams.

I have seen a change in my students in the past couple of weeks since I purchased the unlimited exams. The focus on our classes is to pass the exams. So, whenever we are going through practice questions or other exercises it is based on how to complete that type of question on the exam. When my students take the Practice Tests they need to do as much on their own, however sometimes it helps to ask how to complete a task so they can get it into their brains. Once they learn how to complete the specific task and know the reasoning behind it, they tend to remember it. The focus of our classes has gone off from completing specific assignments for a grade to learning tasks and knowledge in order to pass an exam. I've really enjoyed this focus because the preassure is put on the students to do the learning. They tend to ask more questions and think outside of the box.

I'm looking forward to this next semester when I will be able to start the semester with my students taking the real IC3 exam as a "Pre-Test" and then helping them to pass those exams. Luckily my students this semester are totally interested in learning this material. Several have asked if they can retake the class next semester. I have also told them they can come in during our Flex Time to be able to relearn or take the exams.

I think that this type of scenario is what is best for students. This allows the students that know the material to pass the exam quickly while the students who need a lot of help can get that help. There is also a lot more material that the "advanced" students can learn from instead of just playing games or nothing at all.

Anyways, this all appear as ramlings, but it was a great way for me to post my comments for this #edchat.

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