Morse High School’s teachers employ a variety of assessment strategies to evaluate student learning and use these findings to modify the teaching/learning process for the enhancement of the educational progress of every student.
At Morse High School, teachers use a variety of strategies to evaluate and assess student learning. Based a survey given in the Fall of 2011, over 95 % of our teacher's use formative and summative assessments to check for students' understanding on a daily basis. 82% of Morse teachers use a student snapshot assessment on a daily basis to check for understanding following instruction. They use these quick assessments to determine if they need to modify teaching to cover an idea or concept. All of the core subject teachers use common-assessment CST quizzes on modified Wednesdays to evaluate their students’ mastery of content standards. The type of assessments used, both formal and informal, vary depending on the department as they work collaboratively to determine the mode of analyzing and sharing data with each other and with their students.
With the implementation of our school-wide focus on critical thinking, our department selected two areas of critical thinking on which to focus and as a result, designed pre and post assessments to determine our students’ mastery of purpose and key questioning. These assessments were given in all grade levels and student samples were utilized to determine areas of need for creating lessons and modifying instruction in critical thinking. At department meetings we share instructional strategies for teaching critical thinking and watch video footage of students engaged in critical thinking.
In addition, teachers continue to utilize biweekly CST quizzes to test student proficiency of the California Language Arts Standards. Teachers utilize class reports to help students monitor their own progress and use results to modify lessons within our units of study. Teachers focus on identifying students scoring basic and below basic and develop small group instruction that helps students review the standards they did not master. Our 12th grade team developed English Proficiency Test (EPT) quizzes that help us determine if our students have the English skills necessary to enter the CSU college system and allow us to identify the critical reading and writing skills that our students need to practice.
Within each grade level, teams of teachers participate in two collaborative release days per semester during which they modify pacing guides to cover all standards and decide on timelines to administer various assessments. The 9th grade and 10th grade teams administer common end of unit exams which they use to identify struggling students that need additional support.
In grade level teams, English teachers develop common writing prompts as well. Ninth and tenth grade teachers primarily focus on practice CAHSEE prompts while the eleventh and twelfth grade utilize Early Assessment Program (EAP), SAT and AP style prompts to enable our students to master college-level writing skills. At least one writing assessment is given per grading period within each grade level. Furthermore, several teachers utilize Socratic seminars, oral presentations and portfolios to assess their students and enable teachers to analyze the various strengths and weaknesses of their students.
The Science department has standardized two formal assessments that will be used throughout all courses: labs reports and common CST quizzes. All lab reports are expected to be in a standard format and are assessed with a common rubric. Additionally each individual subject area uses a common assessment designed by subject area teachers to test specific standards within their courses. Physics conducts an egg drop experiment in which students design a package to keep an egg from breaking. We conduct a school-wide competition amongst the physics students to see which package best protects an egg from a fall in order to have students apply their knowledge of physics concepts. Chemistry uses the Periodic Properties Lab as their common lab assessment which requires students to investigate the periodic variations of density in group 4A elements. Biology assigns the “Making a Baby” lab for their common lab assessment. In addition to these formal and informal assessments, science instructors utilize exit slips, warm-ups, thumbs up/thumbs down checks for understanding, short essays, free response questions, multiple choice, true/false, student check point quizzes as well as research projects. Also, the science department employs standard end of unit exams given upon completion of each unit of study. Additionally, science instructors emphasize reflection by encouraging students to review their assessments and correct their mistakes. Instructors have agreed to reward students with partial credit for each wrong answer they research and correct in order to help students demonstrate that they understand and have mastered the information previously assessed.
The history department uses common CST pre-quizzes as formative assessments. These are used in the world and United States history subject areas. They are given approximately every two-three weeks and are used to prepare and assess instruction in preparation for the April CST history examinations. Immediately after the results are received, History instructors desegregate data into strands by standard. Any standards that showed students scoring less than 50% are retaught and retested with the goal of improving student achievement.
In addition, end of course district exams are administered in all courses the exam results are accessible through DataDirector and are used as a tool to assess long term teaching and learning goals. Teachers apply the information to make adjustments to their course pacing guides. While several teachers currently employ Socratic seminars, the department plans to use them as a common assessment in the future with common grading standards. Teachers apply the information to modify their pacing guides.
A common final exam is given by all teachers for all core social studies subjects (world history, United States history, American government and economics). These exams are given once a year. Common chapter and unit exams are being considered for implementation across all subjects within the history department. Common chapter and unit exams will further focus on assessing standards that appear on the CST exams. Each subject has a pacing guide and chapter and unit exams are given on a scheduled basis.
DataDirector is used to monitor student achievement. Current practices include CST quizzes, CST review exams, district end of course exams, and yearly CST scores. On October 13, 2011, the entire History staff had a release day to participate in staff development training with the district social studies chair Matthew Hayes and were trained on using DataDirector scores to improve student achievement
The math department uses several formative assessments to monitor student achievement in content specific courses. Homework is assigned throughout the week and checked often to monitor student learning on a daily basis. Exit slips are another daily assessment that allows the math department to check that students are learning the content that has been presented each day. Class projects are used to assess students’ understanding of the content and their ability to critically think. Warm-ups are used to assess students’ understanding of material that was learned on a previous day or in a previous chapter. Short essays are used to explain concepts or methods for solving problems. Questioning is used on a daily basis to monitor student learning and assess student’s ability to communicate effectively with the appropriate use of academic language.
Chapter quizzes and CST quizzes are formal assessments that allow teachers to monitor student learning in their specific content area. Diagnostic tests are used by the math department to assess student’s placement in a class and prior knowledge of the content. The MDTP (Mathematics Diagnostics Testing Project) is used at the beginning of every year as a diagnostic test. This test is given in the classroom, and the data is aggregated by the University of California San Diego. Students are also assessed through the board work that is done in class. The math department has utilized Promethean boards for two years and has incorporated them into the very fabric of the lesson structure. In addition to using the Promethean board as a multimedia display to engage students, it is also used as an informal assessment by allowing students to actually work problems in front of the entire class where students can monitor each other’s learning and can evaluate how a problem is being solved. This allows each student to use the reflection process to deepen their understanding and perfect their skills while being held accountable for their own learning.
The world languages department uses a variety of assessments suited to the level of the students learning the particular target language. World language instructors use databases to track student responses to oral questions that are used as informal assessments to monitor student progress. CST style quizzes and unit tests are given to assess the students on a biweekly basis. Within a given language, standardized assessments are a used. While the format of the testing within the world language department is standardized, it is not possible to have one standardized test for the entire department. The different languages: Filipino, Spanish, Japanese, and French, make use of the cloze test to guide novice, formulaic language learners. Intermediate level students are assessed through oral performance tasks such as talking about oneself or giving oral directions and they are graded based on grammar and vocabulary proficiency. Teachers utilize this data to identify struggling students and work with students that need additional instruction. Several other types of assessments such as projects and presentations give students ample opportunities to demonstrate their mastery of content standards.
Special educators use a variety of standardized assessments such as: Woodcock Johnson, ARI scores, various classroom work, goal setting and surpassing benchmarks. Observational assessments of the individual students involve observing the students in a classroom environment, monitoring their social interactions, as well as evaluating task accomplishments. Due to the nature of special education and the requirements of the each individual student and their IEP, common assessments are not practical as each student’s IEP is unique to that student and must be evaluated based upon his or her individual challenges and abilities.
All students are educated and assessed in an ongoing process in a variety of ways. It is essential for all students to be assessed in the modality that best fits their needs (visually, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic). Students that have disabilities are assessed using formal and informal measures in accordance with CAPA (California Alternative Performance Standards) as outlined by current law. As other students are tested by the CSTs to gauge progress and compare achievement, such is the outcome for students who are administered the CAPA tests. Student test results are directly related to state standards. Morse also uses quick write assessments to determine reading levels and quick math assessments to determine Math levels of special education students. Morse utilizes the Unique Learning System which provides ongoing curriculum and assessment that is directly linked to the standards. Unique is specifically designed for students with moderate/severe disabilities.
Informal assessments include developing the Person-Centered Plan. The PCP targets the student as the center of their life plan for current functioning and more importantly, the goals they will work toward for their future. Family and friends are included and consulted to determine the student’s current levels and develop strategies for students to reach goals in life domains including areas related to vocational, socialization, self-advocacy and domestic skills. Student classroom work samples are consistently reviewed to determine progress on IEPS goals. Furthermore, we utilize Learning Upgrade, an interactive standards-based program that allows students to improve their skills in English and math.
Finally, because transition to the adult world is a vital component in the high school setting, various assessments are periodically administered to gauge students’ preparation for postsecondary life. Examples of these measures are the Reading-Free Vocational Interest Inventory (R-FVII: 2) and the Vocational Interest Inventory. The first Inventory utilizes pictures, where students select preferred jobs, to determine a proper match for vocational interests. The second is a situational assessment which involves observations of student behavior. All data collected through these assessments are compiled and forwarded to the TRACE (Transition Resources for Community Education, 18-22 year old students) Program to assist with proper programming to transition students to the adult world. Results are also shared with parents in order to provide additional support for these students.
The Visual and Performing Arts:
The art department adheres to a strict timeline to monitor completion of the projects to ensure that all students are well grounded in the basic elements and principles of design and color. The department uses a common rubric to assess all student work and each student is expected to write a reflection on each assignment to demonstrate in written form their understanding of the assignment, the processes involved and their ability to use appropriate content specific terminology. During the first semester the color wheel assessment is used in all art courses in order to compare student work and assess where the department as a whole needs to focus more attention and re-teaching. This feedback is then used to modify future instruction to ensure that areas of student deficiency are identified and corrected so that as the second semester begins all students have the foundational tools they need to succeed.
The athletic department uses state standard testing, fitness grams, mile times and journal self-assessments as part of their standard assessment program. Also, individual sports have their own assessments uniquely tailored to the sport involved. Students are encouraged through the use of a self-assessment journal to continuously reflect on their performance and strive to improve. Informal assessments such as student observations during activities, daily points and participation allow the teachers to monitor student improvement then make suggestions/corrections to enhance student performance.
In addition, our athletic department consists of ten sport teams at Morse High School. During the course of the school year mandatory study hall for athletes is enforced as a means of monitoring student athletes’ progress in all core subjects. The athletic department provides the athletes the opportunity to study prior to scheduled practices each day in to send the message about the importance of academics. As in all high school sports, participants must maintain an academic grade
point average of a C average. For the athletes who do not maintain a C average, they are placed on academic probation until they achieved a C or better.
· Staff Survey
· Survey Data
· Critical thinking assessments
· CST quizzes for each grade level
· Writing prompts
· Pacing guides
· End of Course exams
· Unit exams
· Calendar of team professional development days
· Prof. dev. Day notes
· Common writing prompts for all grade levels
· Lab Reports and lab rubric
· CST quizzes for each subject
· Assignment for Egg Drop Experiment
· Sample exit slips
· Sample revised student exams
· Pacing guides
· CST quizzes
· EOC exams
· End of Chapter exams
· 10th and 11th grade writing prompts
· DataDirector printouts
· Homework assignments
· Exit slips
· Project descriptions
· Short essays
· Chapter quizzes
· CST quizzes
· Diagnostic tests
· Active Inspire Data
· Database of oral responses
· Standardized assessments for each language
· Cloze test results
· Sample group projects
· Woodcock Johnson
· ARI scores
· IEP goals
· CAPA tests
· Quick write assessments
· Quick Math Assessments
· Person-centered plans
· Reading-Free Vocational Interest Inventory (R-FVII: 2)
· Vocational Interest Inventory (Career Cruising)
· Learning Upgrade (Math & Reading)
· Assignment descriptions
· Common rubrics
· Student reflections
· State Standard Testing
· Fitness Gram Data
· Journal self-assessments
· Student observation forms
· Athletics tutoring schedule
· Athlete progress reports