On Monday, I gave my 4th graders an end-of-the-year assessment. Unfortunately, I did not leave enough time for all of them to finish so I will allow some time this coming Monday for the rest of the group to complete the exam. I have no doubt that part of the reason that we had such a robust conversation about the 1o Commandments last Monday was because the kids knew that the more they talked, the more they were eating into the time that I had planned for the exam! I remember what it was like to be a kid and to try to get your teacher off-track! 🙂
Anyway, 7 of the 14 kids completed the exam and, of those, there are 3 A’s; 1B; 1C, 1D, and 1F. In other words, 6 or 7 so far have passed (cup half full!). The one F is not a disaster and it certainly will not result in this student being “held back.” In fact, I’ve seen a lot of progress in this student this year, especially in the area of behavior and participation. I plan on telling this student that I’ve noticed this growth and that I am confident that if it continues, the future is bright. Of the 7 remaining, their work so far looks pretty good. I think we’re looking at a majority of A’s, B’s, and C’s and no D’s or F’s in that group.
I’ll know more by next Tuesday. How are things going for you as we come down the home stretch of this catechetical year?
I agree with assessments to a point. They may exhibit for us the knowledge the youngster or adult has acquired, but does it indicate the level of faith this person has achieved? I have lamented that people out to have “dip sticks” like autos to check the level, not of oil, but of faith. We could remove the “dip stick” and check for the level of faith on a regular basis.
I think the greater indicator in the case of your group of 4th graders is the young person with an “F” probably have moved forward more than the other students in your class. I say this based on the comment you made regarding his change in behavior and participation. His “dip stick” indicates to me his level of faith has increased. He’s “getting it”, even though he doesn’t yet fully understand. Hey weren’t most of our ancestors like that? Abram before becoming Abraham. And then Mary out Blessed Mother. Did she fully understand?
I want the children/adults I work with to “get it” and demonstrate that by their actions. Sometimes those who do well in knowledge have yet to learn “by heart”.
Sondra, thanks for your thoughts. I agree but I believe that both head and heart are involved. Faith is not simply a feeling. It involves the use of reason. Jesus called us to love the Lord our God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Too often in catechesis we swing from one extreme to the other, either focusing solely on the heart and ignoring the head or vice versa. I’m appreciative of the fact that the assessments used in our RE program are not used to “pass or fail” students but to give us catechists an opportunity to see whether our teaching is taking root and to talk to individual students about their growth in faith – head and heart together. Thanks again for your thoughts.
Thank you for sharing your results with all of us! Do you happen to have a good assessment that could be used to assess the Christian Formation process? How would I conduct a surey to find out if the current “model” of faith formation is meeting their needs and what more would they like to see?
Rosalie, it sounds like you may want to check out NCEA’s ACRE assessment program which gives you a good opportunity to find out the strengths and weaknesses of the overall formation process. While individual students take the test, the scores are compiled to show a composite so that the program itself is being assessed and strengths and weaknesses pointed out. Visit http://www.ncea.org/assessment/index.asp.
I do assessments in my parish as well. However, I have the catechists put how many they missed out of how many questions are on the assessment. We do not do the assessment as a means of a pass or fail but to see what the have retained and what they have not. Have you ever seen the assessment be a useful tool to hold someone back from advancing to the next grade?
William, I myself have not had to hold back a student however, if a DRE ever felt that holding a student back was advantageous, it helps to have an assessment as part of the overall package of evidence that a child is not fully embracing faith formation.
Thanks for sharing your assessment results. Mine were good but I was disappointed in one and gave him a second chance and he came out with flying colors. I knew that he was having problems with time and health that is why I gave him a second chance and he seemed to really appreciate that and on the way out of class he gave me a big hug and said thank you.
Frances, thanks for your update and description of how you dealt with the one child. Good example of how assessments are used to help children grow and not just to slap a score on them.
I teach a first grade class. The books we use have a question or two at the end of each chapter that stresses the “big” idea or point of the chapter. For my assessment I went back thorough the entire book and copied the questions (there were about thirty) then asked the class the questions. I was proud that they knew the answers to all but one question. I think that was pretty good and I told them how proud I was that they had listened so well and remembered what I had taught them. My other way of knowing that they are getting the other concepts of our faith is when I see how they cooperate and help each other. I start my class with a “Do now”, usually a coloring page or short activity page that has to do with the “big idea” or theme of the day’s lesson. When I first started, I had to pass out the pages and the crayons as the students came into the classroom but, gradually, without even being asked, the students took it upon themselves to pass out the pages and crayons on their own. I saw that as proof that they were learning to help and to share (I have only one big container of crayons for the entire class). Helping others and sharing are a big part of our faith and I was glad to see this in my students and am always sure to notice and compliment them on how well they are doing.
Ana, thanks for sharing your experience of doing assessment at the first grade level. What an outstanding idea to go back and ask the kids the 30 BIG questions! Those are indeed the main concepts that your text focused on and you rightly went back to them to measure the kids’ comprehension. There are a variety of ways to do such assessment and it sounds like yours was of the informal variety. A more formal variety would be to use those 30 BIG ideas and assess EACH student’s ability to respond to them. This gives you an opportunity to see how each child is doing individually as opposed to the class as a whole. I also love how you taught your students to take responsibility for their “routine” – another good example of informal assessment. Thanks Ana and keep up the great work with those first graders!