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A Self-fulfilling Prophecy: Academic Performance and the Strong Effects on Students’ Educational Aspirations–How Can We Know What Students Know? Part 2

 David M. Chapinski

The greatest push back I believe comes from parents who are concerned that the person in front of the classroom is not a certified teacher.  A school needs to explain that their substitute substitutes are often more qualified than those in the regular substitute pool.  These parents need to know that their children are being taught by administrators who hold doctorates and master’s degrees in education and related fields and school staff who, although not certified teachers, have worked within the education environment for years.

Nearly every student has suffered the experience of spending hours preparing for a major assessment, only to discover that the material that he or she had studied was different from what the teacher chose to emphasize on the assessment.  This experience teaches students two unfortunate lessons.  First, students realize that hard work and effort don’t pay off in school because the time and effort that they spend studying had little or no influence on the results.  And second, they learn that they cannot trust their teachers.  These are hardly the lessons that responsible teachers want their students to learn which is why I believe that quality of your relationships with administrative personnel and offices contributes to student satisfaction.  Hiring a new administrator to oversee the operation of one-stop services leads directly to a new series of assessments which can be performed to identify the most pressing problem areas.  Teachers often don’t think twice about arranging or asking for a substitute.  We need to use engagement results for improvements and make student satisfaction a high priority not freezing the budget for substitutes, and during the second half of a school year eliminating the use of substitute teachers except for emergency situations or those covered by the Family Medical Leave Act.  Administrators and support personnel should step in to take over classrooms as substitutes and fill some nonteaching roles to free up school staff to assist in the classroom.

Many educators think of formative assessment as another kind of test. I believe Instead that it is a process to help instructors to understand their students’ day-to-day learning and to develop appropriate interventions to improve that learning.  We know from research that effective formative assessment has multiple components, but most educators use only one or two.  I believe this is why change cannot come fast enough for some people so deprecated that it is frightening to watch.  Teachers who used to say, ‘I taught it; they didn’t learn it,’ now say, ‘I taught it and here’s what I now need to reinforce’ show just how out of touch our realities can be from our expectations.  Who is to say that they were really doing a lot to catch every student?  It certainly was not me in every grade that was mastered.  For I see change as a lesson education needs to learn the hard way into college, with non-linearities so blind by many they cannot even be seen.  In other words, reinstruction does not mean that you say it louder or more slowly. It means teaching something differently to meet the needs of all the learners in your class.”  Learning much like grades can be achieved in a non-linear pattern without excessive extrinsic motivation.

Finally, formative assessment is all about good teaching, and helping students learn about themselves and working together in an effective classroom setting.  But what we need to do is help teachers help students; this is what makes the difference because there is a notable gap between rigorous content standards and the instruction taking place for example, in English language development (ELD) classes at an earlier age. In the ELD classroom, the learning activities that students engaged in most often required basic language skills used for identifying, describing, or organizing information, but rigorous content standards and instruction, for instance in mathematics and science, focus on more complex language skills, such as those students use to analyze or generalize. To help students achieve academically, we have to make sure the language skills taught in their ELD classes help them engage meaningfully with the content in their academic classes.

A tool proven useful to practitioners called the “Academic Language Demands and Language Complexity Taxonomy” describes general academic language functions necessary for skill mastery, ranging from basic to complex. Educators can use the taxonomy to determine the academic language skills necessary to meet specific content learning objectives. It also provides a common way for content and language specialists to categorize and discuss the language skills that students need in order to understand academic content and to demonstrate what they know. 
I believe we should be looking at assessment in higher education through taxonomy because it will address what is it about a test question that continually appears not to map onto some students’ experiences?

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