Academic journal article Language Arts

Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Reader Behind the Numbers

Academic journal article Language Arts

Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Reader Behind the Numbers

Article excerpt

Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Reader behind the Numbers by Clare Landrigan & Tammy Mulligan, Stenhouse, 2013, 140 pp., ISBN 978-1-57110-964-4

In their first book, Landrigan and Mulligan invite readers to join them on their journey in understanding the intersection of assessment and daily instructional practice. They begin by stating, "Assessment is more than a published test or tool that is administered formally. Assessment is also the data we collect authentically, every day" (p. 2). They remind teachers never to forget "that behind every number is a reader and that we, as teachers, have the power to use assessment to make a difference for each one of them" (p. 3). They also stress how imperative it is for teachers to learn ways to collect, triangulate, and analyze different types of data: diagnostic, formative, and summative; informal and formal; qualitative and quantitative. Such data makes it possible for us to understand readers and find their stories.

The authors have divided their journey into six chapters. Each chapter has a different focus on assessment, quotes from outstanding authors and researchers, and readers' stories illustrating thinking and understanding of authentic assessment and instructional practice in elementary classrooms. They willingly share things they know-beliefs grounded in seminal theoretical research. For example, when they state their first belief that assessment is more than a number, they reference Marie Clay's idea of systematic observation and Peter Johnston's work on the language that teachers use in conversation with students. They write, "Assessment should not be about defining a reader but about piecing together information to help us design classroom experiences so we can observe our readers learning and understand what each one needs" (p. 9). Their second belief, that assessment and instruction are inseparable, is based on the work of Carol Ann Tomlinson, who helped teachers think about differentiated instruction, and Pearson and Gallagher, who developed the gradual release of responsibility model of instruction. Their third belief, guided by the research of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, states that instruction can meet high standards and still be developmentally appropriate. …

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