Gordon Associates Why Do We Do What We Do, And How Do We Know if it’s Working? By Ron Gordon, EdD
Why We Are Here Why Do Assessment? Philosophy of Assessment Basic Skills Education The Placement Accuracy Model Test Scores And... Some Tools and Methods Conclusions and Recommendations
Why Bother With Assessment More than half of high school graduates need some remediation to be ready for college-level scholarship. Research has shown that students who start their college experience in basic skills courses above their skill levels are more likely to fail later applications courses.
Why Bother With Assessment Providing Second Chances – Steve Handel Level the Playing Field Ensure That All Students Have Equal Opportunities to be Successful Provide a Progression of Skills Development It’s the Right Thing to Do
Philosophy of Assessment What Should Assessment Be or Do? –Accurate –Valid –Consistent –Accessible –Non-threatening –Fair and Non-discriminatory –Grounded in Sound Research
A Philosophy Statement Assessment and course placement will be provided to students of this college as accurately as possible, as verified by on- going research, to give students their best opportunity to begin a successful academic career at the level most appropriate for the skills each student brings to the college.
Basic Skills The Three Rs Communication –Reading, Writing, Speaking Computation –Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry Train the mind to continue to learn –Estella Lopez
Basic Skills Definition –The Computation and communication skills necessary to learn sophisticated material in college courses. Every students comes to college with limits in his/her basic skills. May be ready to take on college-level work May not be
Skills Deficiencies Learning in math and English is cumulative We use the material learned at one level to learn at the next What happens if we create “gaps” in basic skills development?
The Cumulative Effect of a Math Skills Deficit Physics Intermediate Elementary Pre-algebra ` Accumulated Deficit
Right and Wrong Questions The Wrong Question –“Does this student have the ability to pass this course with a grade of ‘C’ or higher?” The Right Question –What is the appropriate course for this student in this subject to ensure that (s)he will build a sound foundation from which to master all the required courses in this subject and in subjects that require the skills taught in this subject?
Getting There: The Research Methods Survey Faculty and Students Compare Survey Results with Test Scores Establish Cut Scores Based on Students’ Preparedness for the Course Compare Survey Results with Course Grades –Those rated inadequately prepared should fail/drop in significantly higher numbers than those rated adequately prepared.
Why Not Use Course Grades? Less than 20% of grade variance is explained by academic skills as measured in assessment Most grade variance is explained by faculty grading variances Too many uncontrolled factors contribute to grades
Why Not Use Course Grades? Evaluate the assessment system, not student performance Grades do not allow examination of the students placed below their capabilities Grades come at the end of the term, too late to make changes before the next term. Can’t evaluate the students who dropped the course
How Does it Work? Administer surveys after faculty have done some kind of assessment and given students feedback Get it done early, before too many students drop. Evaluate for disproportionate impact Use clear definitions
Sample Definitions In the column labeled “Prepared”, please enter the value for each student’s preparation or ability to learn at this level, using the following definitions: 1.Under preparedThe student is unable to grasp the concepts and methods being taught, or the student lacks the background abilities to learn at the required pace. 2.Adequately preparedThe student has the ability to keep up with the pace of the course and adequately master each learning objective. 3.Over preparedThe student already knows each assignment and/or would be highly likely to be successful at the next higher level.
How Accurate is Accurate? California requires that 75% of students be rated adequately prepared Most colleges exceed that 90% is possible Background measures often help Minimize under-placement (over-prepared)
Some Conclusions Assessment is necessary Assessment can be done accurately and painlessly If it can’t be done well, don’t do it It may do greater harm to misplace students than to let them place themselves Must be grounded in research
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