As part of my Assessment of Learning course at The College of William and Mary in the spring of 2011, I created a summative assessment for a first grade science unit on plants. In order to create this assessment, I first “unpacked the curriculum” by analyzing the Curriculum Framework and Standards of Learning as provided by the Virginia Department of Education’s website and its 2003 Science Standard 1.4. I identified the intended learning outcomes of this particular standard and aligned its expected cognitive levels with those of Bloom’s Taxonomy. With the help of this Intended Learning Outcome table, I was able to look at the third grade Science Test Blueprint (the first SOL Test in the Science content area in Elementary School), and create a Table of Specifications to help guide my assessment construction.

This assessment creation project fulfills Competency 16 of the “Assessment and Evaluation” domain of The College of William and Mary’s professional competencies which states: The William and Mary student teacher creates and selects appropriate assessments for learning. The assessment linked below was created as part of a first grade Science unit to be conducted in my practicum placement in March of 2011. It is the culminating assessment of the Life Sciences unit on plants; however, each student’s final grade for this unit will be a culmination of scores based on additional assessments, homework, participation, experiment completion, and behavior.

Creating this assessment helped me develop a clearer understanding of the Virginia Standards of Learning and the importance of valid and reliable assessments at both a state and national level. By exploring Science standard 1.4 as both a simple objective and a key component in the scope and sequence of the Life Science strand, I was able to write supply response and select response test items with both construct and content validity. Throughout this assessment creation process, I have developed a better understanding of the relationship between curriculum, assessment, and instruction that will stay with me for the duration of my career in education.
Though formal assessment is a necessary component of all learning environments, I also believe that integrating informal assessments into daily lessons and activities is an important practice. One of the things that I introduced during my student teaching experience was an in-class "Gator Gallery." Our school, Greenwood Elementary, conducts quarterly "Gator Galleries" in which students are their families are invited to come back to the school one evening each marking period in order to show off a special project and/or some of their best work. Students who attend the "Gator Gallery" are expected to informally present their work and orally reflect on their experience with the project. Our Chrysanthemum Reader's Theater project was showcased during the March "Gator Gallery" and six students from my class brought their families to see their hard work that evening (a GREAT turnout!); however, it bothered me that the other eleven students in the class did not get to showcase their work. This inspired me to rotate some of the display boards in my cooperating teacher's classroom in order to designate a space for displaying samples of student work. The spare dry erase board was conveniently located above the in-class sink and water fountain (a frequently visited spot) so that students could admire the class' hard work and find inspiration in their peers' writing styles and approaches to learning.