California Standards for the Teaching Profession: Standard Five
5.1 Establishing and communicating learning goals for all students
5.2 Collecting and using multiple sources of information to assess student learning
5.3 Involving and guiding all students in assessing their own learning
5.4 Using the results of assessment to guide instruction
5.5 Communicating with students, families, and other audiences about student progress

(In response to R. Routman's Conversations, chapter 15) 

Big Ideas:
• “Assessment must be promote learning, not just measure it” (559).
• “Self-evaluation...must be taught and modeled and must include and action plan, not just reflections and goals” (561).
• “Portfolios bring together a wide range of work over diverse contexts that represents the journey of a student’s learning and thinking” (566).
• “ ‘If we want kids to do quality work, they have to know what quality is.’ They have to see and experience what ‘quality’ looks like or sounds like. Well-constructed rubrics are one way to help kids understand what we mean by quality and guide learners to assess and improve their work” (574).
• “Standards are here to stay...[and] we have a long way to go before present standards have a major impact on student achievement” (584, 586).
• “American students are the most tested students in the world” (590).

 In this chapter, Routman discusses the ever-present buzz word of the new millennium, assessment. As I read, I realized for the first time a small glimpse at connecting all of the seemingly random testing and regulatory methods present in schools today. Routman does a good deal of work to piece together how student and teacher evaluations can fit and compare to parent expectation, standards, standardized tests, portfolios, conferences, self-assessment, and report cards. Oddly enough, I had not considered looking at these things as parts of one whole before. Having seen this done, I feel a sense of control over the situation in a way I had not before. 

 At the start of the chapter, Routman quotes Anne C. Lewis as saying, “No single test can accurately measure what a child knows or a community needs to know. An array of assessments needs to be available for multiple purposes--accountability, school evaluation, reporting to parents, and instructional improvement” (557).

This is clearly true, but I have been wondering about how we deal with this in the end. My experience is limited, but what I have seen in my student teaching is that the tests have taken over the classroom. Students spend the whole year preparing for tests, taking practice tests, and then taking tests. They never seem to be allowed to learn for the sake of learning, and the teachers then burn out from teaching without the reward of seeing students learn anything other than how to fill in bubbles on a scantron. What is especially difficult for me is to watch the natural curiosity that kids have burn out as they try to fit in all the little boxes correctly. It leaves me a little tender about tests. 

 Routman steps in here with other methods to evaluate, such as portfolios and conferences, but even she admits the threat of burnout due to the energy these methods require to create effective and useful end products. At least the portfolios include the kids, though. If there is a sense of tangibility surrounding how they are being evaluated and asked how they think they are doing, and have an end product rather than an abstract test score, I think it would be worth it. It creates an element of self-actualization for so many students who are not taught the skills at home. I remember being in high school when the portfolio idea began to surface, and thinking it was a waste of time. Only now do I see that I thought that because it was redundant to me. It meant less papers that I could put in my own records at home. I already had the concept and value of keeping things that I was proud of academically, and had my own system of records. The school’s imposition was frustrating. I see now how it would affect students to not have some way to preserve what they had done, especially if they had not had that kind of consciousness instilled in them. It is still a huge task with huge responsibility to place on teachers.

Back to Standard Five
 On to Standard Six