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Classroom Assessment and the National Science Education Standards
can serve other purposes as well. In a year-long teacher-researcher collaborative project in an elementary classroom, Rudd and Gunstone (1993) helped foster self-assessment skills through questionnaires, concept maps, and self-assessment maps. The researchers cite the following as evidence of an enhanced learning environment:
the development of students' abilities to plan and think through their goals and skills;
the creation of student awareness of the importance of evaluating their own work;
the students' abilities to evaluate each other's self-assessment and in then providing constructive criticism; and
the students' abilities to manage resources and time more effectively.
Assessment provides opportunities to discuss and develop a common understanding of what constitutes quality work. Students can have substantive conversations about what constitutes a good lab investigation, a salient scientific response, an appropriate use of evidence, or an effective presentation. Such discussions can be preliminary to the difficult challenge of trying to develop detailed assessment rubrics—tools that provide detailed descriptions and criteria for varying performance levels used to assess student work or responses —to help gauge quality work in each of these dimensions and to help guide the production of quality work. Participating in assessment can provide students with opportunities to reflect on what they are learning in order to make coherent connections within and between subject matters (Cole, Coffey, & Goldman, 1999; Resnick & Resnick, 1991; Wiggins, 1998). In the process of such deliberation, students often generate many of the salient educational goals themselves (Duschl & Gitomer, 1997). The process increases their commitment to achieving them (Covington, 1992). Furthermore, the ability to self-assess is essential for becoming a self-directed, lifelong learner (NRC, 1996), one of the aims set forth in the Standards.
THE SCHOOL'S ROLE
In-depth case studies conducted by Darling-Hammond and colleagues (1995) report how teachers and students in five schools used assessment to inform instruction and stimulate greater learning. Their work reinforces that assessment that makes learning central cannot be separated from other aspects of schooling. By focusing on schools where assessment occurs through “real-world” challenges that engage students in the assessment process, the studies provide examples of the role that observation, logs, portfolios, journal writing, and self- and peer-assessment, can play in facilitating powerful learning.