In order for states to close the achievement gap and ensure the success of all students, every state will need teachers who can interpret assessment results and take action based on accurate assessment data. Evidence strongly supports the need for teachers who are assessment literate, yet few colleges of education or K12 school districts provide adequate training on the use of assessments for teaching and learning. The National Task Force on Assessment Education for Teachers was launched in December 2015 to address this need for assessment education.
The goal of the Task Force is to be a national voice on this issue and develop new approaches that can be put into practice by colleges and school districts. The national Task Force is comprised of pre-service and in-service educators and thought leaders, including three advisors and 24 educators from 17 states.
As part of an ongoing blog series, we’ll focus the spotlight on each Task Force member; our first Task Force Member Spotlight shines on Scott Reed, NBCT. Scott is the chair of the Task Force Communications Workgroup, leading efforts to communicate the Task Force’s work and be a strong voice for assessment literacy. Scott is a physics teacher at Niles North High School in Skokie, Illinois, and is a Fellow of the Golden Apple Foundation in Chicago, IL. Even after twenty years of teaching, Scott’s enthusiasm for inspiring students to augment and advance their abilities as scientists, critical thinkers, and problem solvers remains as strong as ever. One hundred percent participation is the norm in his classes – a goal that Scott fosters through careful planning, a compassionate attitude, a welcoming and respectful environment, and a concentrated effort to quickly eliminate the common fear that physics will be “too difficult.” Compelling questions, inquiry-based activities, lively discussion, ongoing individualized assessment, and thoughtful teacher reflection are all hallmarks of Scott’s classes.
Why did you agree to join the Task Force?
Joining the Task Force is without a doubt a “once in a career”-type of experience. I am energized by opportunities such as this that bring experts together from different perspectives with a common goal of supporting the practice of teachers and impacting student learning. I feel very honored to have been asked to participate, I am proud of what we have already accomplished, and I am looking forward to the significant work ahead.
I love to reflect upon and share the many wonderful ways my students learn and grow as a result of our classroom time together, and I equally enjoy learning how to make the educational experiences for my students better. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn more about assessment from the diverse and accomplished group assembled for the Task Force. Our work so far has been impressive… and even more so, I have especially enjoyed being a part of the transformation of our individual ideas into even more innovative initiatives as a result of our collective work together. The Task Force has big goals and a lot of work ahead, and I couldn’t be more excited about how our efforts continue to advance assessment education for teachers.
How might you use your learning and time with the Task Force to impact your current work over the next 12 months?
I am blessed to work in two professional capacities. During the school year, I teach one hundred highly-motivated physics students to think, to reason and to become scientists. They breathe life into the assessments of the course, and their growth throughout the year is phenomenal. I do whatever I can to enrich their learning experiences, and the insights gained through my work on the Task Force have already had a positive effect on their learning. I look forward to the many creative ways that the Task Force will impact all teachers as they further their own assessment literacy.
During the summer, I mentor a group of fifteen future teachers within the Golden Apple Scholars Program. I work with these pre-service teachers in the summer between their high school graduation and their freshman year in college, guiding them as they assist a teacher assigned to a program within the Chicago Public School system. These future teaching superstars are hungry to learn about tools and resources they can use in their own future classrooms and are passionate about helping others. I have experienced the benefits that our initial assessment literacy initiatives have already had on this group – the Assessment Literacy Definition created by the Task Force enriched our discussions this past summer, which in turn led to the development of a wider array of assessments that were created and refined with their students’ learning at the focus.
The achievements of the Task Force continue to inspire me as an educator and as an advocate for education. I am especially excited about the evolution of great ideas in education and how they take their unique forms in each class and setting. The insights of the Task Force members have certainly been a catalyst for the development of resources and action plans that are being developed and refined in our second year together.
Have you had success in improving assessment education for teachers, either Pre- or In-Service, in your work? If yes, please tell us a bit about the work and the results.
In my career, I have found that the greatest successes have resulted from dedicated and impassioned teachers discussing lessons and assessments, reflecting upon student growth, and making changes to their practice as a result. I have been very fortunate to work with teachers at all levels of expertise, from pre-service teachers prior to their first college education class to highly accomplished teachers renewing their National Board Certification. One commonality across all teachers and settings is the incredible value of observation and reflection as it relates to student growth. Observation and reflection stretch teachers beyond their daily routines and individual creative limits, especially when done in tandem. Taking the time to brainstorm, analyze, and problem solve together and apply the refined ideas to one’s current classes have consistently resulted in improved student learning. In fact, my own students regularly benefit when I serve as an advisor to other teachers because of the growth that occurs for all involved in improving instructional experiences.
Collaboration has especially had a positive impact on the assessments used within my classes. No longer do I simply rely on daily homework, weekly labs and quizzes, and end-of-unit traditional tests. My assessment tools have been expanded to include daily check-in self-assessments, video tape analysis of our scientific process, whole class assessment of the community of learners, lab reports that target specific skills, a mix of informal and formal assessments, and tests that transcend units and are multifaceted, including writing, reasoning, and lab components. The mix of assessments has given me a more authentic and deeper understanding of each of my students, and it has given my students a better sense of what they are doing well and what aspects of their growth as scientists and physics students need more attention. Certainly the quest of assessment literacy in my own practice is an ongoing and ever-developing pursuit that will continue to have long-term benefits for me and my students throughout my career.
Stay tuned for our next Task Force member spotlight!