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Validating Intended Instruction

Circle High School is regarded as one of the most proficient and the most perspective schools in Montana. However, profound analysis of the school’s curriculum has revealed several major inconsistencies. Our analytical group suggests that the effectiveness and efficiency of the learning curriculum for 10th grade students will increase, when the school is able to align its policy objectives (to help all students enter the college) with the student learning objectives (to score at or above proficiency level in all basic disciplines). Alternative forms of measuring student performance

Alternative forms of assessment will help students and education professionals reveal weaker sides of the learning process. Currently, the school exercises several criterion-referenced tests to evaluate reading and math performance of 10th grade students. CRT is “a standards-based test, which means it measures specific skills defined for each grade by the state” (Neil, 2003). Alternative assessments “are performance based; they help instructors emphasize that the point of learning is communication for meaningful purposes” (Yehudit, 2003).

The development and implementation of alternative assessment forms will help students evaluate themselves and other students. Students will be able to provide their instructors with the feedback that will further enhance the quality of the learning process. To align policy and learning objectives, we will use checklists. Checklists will evaluate student performance in different subjects through a set of oral and written assignments. In checklists, students will only have to answer “yes” or “no”.

Rubrics will be used as another reliable form of alternative assessment, to evaluate the student progress and preparedness to entering the college. To create a general and objective picture of student performance, we suggest using concept maps. “Concept mapping employs small group processes, sorting and rating techniques, and multivariate statistical analysis techniques to represent the program in the form of a map” (Neil, 2003). The map will offer a graphic view of the way the school’s policy objectives are aligned with those of the learning process. Additional needs analysis

To help identify additional learning needs, and to align these needs with the school policy objectives, the following questions need to be answered: – What is the school’s main policy objective? – How does the curriculum meet this objective? – What learning problems require immediate resolution? – What performance standards should be followed to solve these problems? – What are the major obstacles that hinder effective resolution of these problems? – What skills do students require to achieve the school’s learning and policy objectives? – Who is involved into the process of solving these problems?

Embedded testing, summative and formative evaluation Some researchers suggest that “curriculum embedded tests lack clear definition due to the fact that it is often difficult to know what constitutes a test and what does not” (Kuhs, Porter & Floden, 1983). Others write that “embedded assessment is a process whereby a faculty member consciously, explicitly, and systematically monitors whether or not students are meeting the core curriculum goals in a specific core curriculum course” (Yehudit, 2003). Embedded testing will measure whether the students have met school curriculum goals.

Curriculum-embedded testing will further align these measurements with the number of students entering college. The number of school graduates entering college will serve the central measure of curriculum effectiveness at Circle High School. Embedded testing will require that students answer several critical questions and participate in several critical activities, which are closely linked to the 10th grade curriculum content. Embedded testing will be supplemented with short questionnaires that students and faculty members will be asked to fill as soon as embedded testing is completed.

The questionnaire will determine student attitudes towards embedded testing and will measure the impact of performance evaluation results on the pedagogical practices at school. Rubrics will form the basis of the formative evaluation process at each stage of the learning process. Summative evaluation will require answering the two basic questions: 1. Has the student performed at or above the proficiency level required by the state? and 2. Has the student entered the college? Curriculum objectives

To create an integral system of curriculum and school policy objectives, the following curriculum objectives will need to be integrated into the 10th grade instruction: – students display positive attitudes towards learning; – students demonstrate clear understanding of the learning objectives; – students demonstrate an ability to use reading and mathematical skills in practice; – students understand how reading, math, and school policy objectives are interrelated. Curriculum objectives should be regularly reviewed to ensure their flexibility under the pressure of the changing learning standards.

Curriculum objectives should be made public, to develop student awareness about what they should and will achieve by the end of the learning process.

References

Kuhs, T. , Porter, A. & Floden, R. (1983). Differences among teachers in their use of curriculum-embedded tests. Michigan: The Institute for Research on Teaching. Neil, M. (2003). The dangers of testing. Educational Leadership, 60 (5): 43-46. Yehudit, D. J. (2003). From nationwide standardized testing to school-based alternative embedded assessment. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40 (1): 34-52.

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