To be honest, this chapter left me a bit confused. Cooper addresses assessment reform on the school, district, and individual teacher level, but to me it sounded like standardizing assessment. I agree that teachers should be collaborating on issues that directly address specific needs or learning outcomes for students, and that they should be consistent in their grading and reporting practices; however, introducing a standardized assessment practice across the school or district doesn’t really resonate with me. How could the assessment strategies used in an above average class also be used in a high needs classroom?
In the case study presented in this chapter, Jennifer Adams, Superintendent of Curriculum, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board states that:
“Through this policy statement, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has encouraged teachers to find creative ways to allow students to demonstrate their understanding of curriculum expectations.”
To me, this is what assessment comes down to. In almost all the success stories I hear about including the most recent one at Rideau High School, success emerged mainly because teachers and leaders used their professional judgment and found creative ways to address issues and improve student achievement. Hardly ever do I hear of major success stories, specifically in urban schools, that are due to properly implementing “the system.” I really believe that teachers, especially those working with high needs students should be given more room and time to find new innovative ways that work best for their students without worrying about being held accountable for implementing standardized strategies. Yes, of course there should be a guiding practice and essential collaboration between teachers on all levels, but it shouldn’t be as time-consuming and demanding.
I felt the ideas Cooper presented in this chapter would be more practical in schools that already have some sort of base level to work from and are interested in “improving” rather than “establishing” student achievement. All the ideas Cooper presented seem logical and backed by strong research, but when it comes to working with students who are struggling with extreme learning disabilities and at times their learning targets are pretty much all behavioural based, I feel that these strategies are a step ahead of the current situational demand. Earlier in his text, Cooper mentioned that instructional design should not be based on a “one-size-fits-all” approach because students have different needs; similarly, I feel that no one-way assessment approach could possibly address the different needs of all the classrooms in one school, equally. In some classrooms teachers could afford to invest time working on the assessment reform demanded by their school or district, while in others, the bulk of time should be dedicated to establishing some sort of base level to even begin working from. As a teacher, I should be fully aware of all the current changes occurring in the assessment practice, but I also should be able to prioritize my time in accordance with the essential needs of my students.