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Standards- based assessment Tim McNamara The University of Melbourne.

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1 Standards- based assessment Tim McNamara The University of Melbourne

2 Standards-based assessment and criterion referencing Standards-based assessment is a form of criterion-referenced assessment (cf norm- referenced assessment).

3 Information derived from a Criterion-Referenced Test The degree to which the student has attained criterion performance, for example whether he can satisfactorily prepare an experimental report. Glaser 1994 [1963], p.6

4 Information derived from a Norm-Referenced Test The relative ordering of individuals with respect to their test performance, for example, whether Student A can solve his problems more quickly than Student B. Glaser 1994 [1963], p.6

5 Definition of a criterion- referenced test A criterion-referenced test is one that is deliberately constructed to yield measurements that are directly interpretable in terms of specified performance standards. Performance standards are generally specified by defining a class or domain of tasks that should be performed by the individual. Glaser and Nitko, 1971, p. 653

6 Definition of a criterion- referenced test (2) A student’s score on a criterion-referenced measure provides explicit information as to what the student can and can’t do. Criterion-referenced measures indicate the content of the behavioural repertory, and the correspondence between what an individual does and the underlying continuum of achievement. Measures which assess student achievement in terms of a certain criterion standard thus provide information as to the degree of competence attained by a particular student which is independent of reference to the performance of others. Glaser, 1963, p. 519

7 Norm-referenced test Any test that is primarily designed to disperse the performances of students in a normal distribution based on their general abilities, or proficiencies, for purposes of categorizing the students into levels or comparing students’ performances to the performances of others who formed the normative group. Brown and Hudson (2002, p. 2)

8 Is CRT behaviourist? Criterion-referenced testing has its origins in behaviourism, but need not be atomistic, purely dichotomous, or reductive.

9 Criterion-referencing and levels on a continuum Underlying the concept of achievement measurement is the notion of a continuum of knowledge acquisition ranging from no proficiency at all to perfect performance. An individual’s achievement level falls at some point on this continuum as indicated by the behaviors he displays during testing. The degree to which his achievement resembles desired performance at any level is assessed by criterion- referenced measures of achievement or proficiency.

10 Scales and CRT The standard against which a student’s performance is compared when measured in this manner is the behavior which defines each point along the achievement continuum. The term ‘criterion’, when used in this way, does not necessarily refer to final end- of-course behavior. Criterion levels can be established at any point in instruction where it is necessary to obtain information as to the adequacy of an individual’s performance. Glaser, 1963, pp

11 Interface with policy - scales and frameworks Dominant movement in language education internationally Driven by need for accountability and emphasis on demonstrable outcomes Has adopted functionalist view of language education (i.e. not cultural, intellectual, values dimension) Response to demands of globalization, efficiency Curriculum and assessment addressed in single framework Emphasis on reporting

12 Format of standards Standards are typically formulated as an ordered series of statements about levels of achievement or stages of development. (There may be multiple sets of ordered statements for different aspects of language development)

13 CEFR Levels A2, B1 (speaking) A2: Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need. B1: Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

14 Mislevy: claims and evidence An assessment is a machine for reasoning ASSESSMENT ARGUMENT about what students know, can do or have accomplished CLAIMS based on a handful of things they say, do, or make in particular settings OBSERVATIONS/ EVIDENCE

15 What is the CEFR? It represents a construct definition; it is an exercise in domain modelling It provides a set of claims It provides a general characterization of evidence and tasks It is not a test - it allows different kinds of tests to be realizations of this construct

16 Possible functions of standards Planning: to act as a series of objectives of goals for teaching and learning; involve clear and specific statements of teaching aims Professional understanding: to inform teachers about the typical progress of learning; more complex statements and include contextual and interpretative information in order to help the teacher understand more fully the nature of the emergent ability in the learner Accountability: to act as statements of learning outcomes for administrative purposes - tends to be dominant function

17 Formative vs summative assessment Can standards-based assessment help with formative assessment?

18 Gathering evidence to form basis of reporting Gathering of evidence a mixture of teacher-led assessment and external examination External evidence may be seen as intrusive, insensitive to learning Places burden on teacher for record keeping Requires intensive professional development of teachers Best schemes provide good advice to teachers about integrating assessment in instruction - ‘Assessment for learning’ movement

19 The assessment pyramid LEVELS (NUMBERED ) LEVEL SUMMARIES STRAND DESCRIPTIONS WITHIN EACH MODE, EXAMPLES PROVIDED [ADVICE TO TEACHERS] DETAILED EXAMPLES TEACHER CHOOSES ACTIVITY & CRITERIA

20 Competing demands in standards-based assessment Validity demandsManagerialist demands Teacher/ learner demands Intellectual defensibility of construct Evidence of Reliability Other validity evidence Concern for consequences Reporting Accountability Meaningfulness in instructional process Facilitation of learning Enhanced quality of teaching Minimization of administrative burden on teachers

21 Dylan Wiliam: Beyond norm- and criterion-referenced tests Norm-referenced - hard to interpret in terms of what a student can do; limited to placing student in cohort group Criterion-referenced - leads to narrowing of teaching Also implies a cohort group

22 Wiliam on the role of teachers An assessment is valid to the extent that you are happy for teachers to teach towards the test Therefore: Involve teachers in summative assessment Increases reliability and validity Externalize standards Locates teacher as coach, not judge Requires teachers to form a ‘community of practice’

23 Wiliam on construct-referenced assessment ‘Criteria’ do not define but exemplify grades ‘Standards’ are shared by the community of practice ‘Standards’ are implicit and evolve

24 Example: Standards and the PhD Implies a yes/no decision about individuals Impossible to specify criteria But examination process proceeds successfully Granting PhD is a performative utterance, an illocutionary act (not a description) - the person is launched on their career

25 Wiliam on summative and formative assessment Effective summative assessment requires teachers to share a construct of quality Effective formative assessment Requires students to share the same construct of quality Requires teachers to posses an anatomy of quality

26 Wiliam on quality rather than criteria “Maxims cannot be understood, still less applied by anyone not already possessing a good practical knowledge of the art. They derive their interest from our appreciation of the art and cannot themselves either replace or establish that appreciation”. (Polanyi, 1958 p50). “Quality doesn’t have to be defined. You understand it without definition. Quality is a direct experience independent of and prior to intellectual abstractions”. (Pirsig, 1991 p64).

27 Our questions 1 assessment vs testing vs evaluation vs validation vs measurement 2 affective factors in assessment 3 influence of L1 on assessment 4 raters/judges 5 effect of tasks - (esp CELU) 6 criteria in writing and oral interaction 7 history of assessment 8 why assessment? Can we do without it? 9 performance assessment

28 Our questions 10 qualitative vs quantitative aspects 11 correction in an oral exam 12 assessment as a process - and the final exam? 13 scales/descriptors for oral language 14 should listening be part of the oral exam? 15 Are we assessing what we want to assess? 16 Defining standards - intermed/advanced etc 17 Inter-rater reliability?

29 Our questions 18 Inferring actual performance from exam performance? 19 Exam strategies 20 Criteria in assessing a performance - e.g. grammar? 21 Cultural aspects - interference in performance, rating, etc?


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