Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thoughts on Assessment

The word assessment can bring a myriad of thoughts to mind as we consider its context in current affairs in education. Assessment often brings about stressful thoughts regarding testing, grading, and pressures of national standards such as NCLB. On the other hand, as educators, we often obsess with the positives of assessment as it is linked to the evaluation of student learning.

In any case, we can make the assumption that assessment is undoubtedly linked to our instructional practices and planing. In every teaching objective there should ultimately be the goal of evaluating students for their understanding and accomplishment of each objective.

In a presentation by a representative from the Perpich Center for Arts Education, we discussed how the best teachers (and best assessors, mind you) were able to individually assess students performance abilities, by integrating individual performance into the instrumental or choral ensemble classroom. As an aspiring band director, I understand the implications of crunch-time during concert season, but I also know that it is our responsibility as educators to be fully aware of what our students are accomplishing and understanding.

If a parent approaches me at conferences to inquire about their student, I want to be able to provide them with more knowledge and satisfaction than to merely show them a grade book which indicates little more than attendance at concerts and rehearsals. In order to preserve the future of music education in public schools, we need to be able to identify individual learning in the music classroom environment. We have the rich opportunity as educators to be involved in assessing student learning, rather than leaving that responsibility to policy-makers.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

Assessment can be very confusing. I have read a number of interesting articles by Elliot Eisner (Art Professor at Stanford) who is very big into assessment in the arts. There are a number of parrallels that can be drawn, and it has made me pause to consider assessment in our music classrooms and rehearsals.

I would further say that assessment is linked to our praxis within the classroom and rehearsal. When students are actively engaged in making of music, we are engaged in assessing their progress. My belief, and it is view shared by Eisner, is that the information we draw from assessment is critical for the planning and preparation of the next lesson (Eisner, 1999). I may not include it in my lesson plan in so many words, but it is definitely something that is part of every rehearsal.

I also believe in having diverse assessments within the classroom and rehearsal hall. Some students excel at playing exams, yet others understand theory better, others can evaluate a performance and understand its qualities, and others are able to make connections to music history and other disciplines. Reimer, (2003) in his 3rd edition of his philosophy of music education, suggests we should provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their growth as music contains a variety of way to "intelligent".

Assessment, I feel, is going to be critical area for our profession to revisit, and consider how to expand in the coming years. Our ability to show diverse assessment that meets the needs of individual students, as well as the group, I believe will strengthen our standing in the school curriculum. We should also take the opportunity to educate our parents in our community of the diverse ways in which students can demonstrate their abilities in music education, and how we as educators can evaluate them within those activities on objective and subjective components.

Great post Dan, and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future!

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Laurie said...

The thoughts on assesment in this music education online blog is really a unique way of formulating assessments and reviews on one's talent.

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