UDL Principle 2 and Assessment
Week # 5
Assessment as a concept has for a long time been wrongly interpreted and carried out as learner’s knowledge and skills were assessed through one form of standardized tools once a year so, creating unfair competition between learners while not standing on an even platform. This kind of practice was a result and in correspondence to the misconception of the idea of equity and fairness. I believe that before being engaged in the assessment process, educators should answer some questions such as 1- what is going to be assessed? “accumulation of information or the process of learning”. 2- Who is going to be assessed? “Learners of similar or different cognitive, psychological & physical abilities”. 2- How is a learner going to be assessed? “measures, procedures, tools”. The answers of these questions would definitely lead to a better understanding to the concept of assessing as a process that guarantees fair and equal yet flexible and authentic opportunities to demonstrate knowledge and skills.
UDL is interested in making assessment more accessible and without barriers to variety of students including those with disabilities. Many software programs which can help to overcome most obstacles that usually accompany the traditional paper and pencil tests are available now. In the two readings for Rose and Meyer (2002) Teaching every student in the digital age & Ketterlin-Geller & Johnstone Accommodations and Universal Design lots of practical examples for a wide range of available accommodations that help to level the playing field for students with disabilities without changing the difficulty of the test but instead by changing the accessibility to it. I was amazed at the variety of options that are available to make assessment a fruitful experience instead of being a nightmare to both students and teachers as well. The fear of providing necessary support for students who are in need for it list jeopardizing the credibility of the test is how some educators justify this issue. Nothing can justify increasing the pressure on some students and depriving them from the necessary assistance that can make a difference in their performance while maintaining the primary goal of the assessment process. Some students just need to understand the instructions or they only need someone to read them something to kick off.
Thousand et al in differentiating Instruction chapter 6 has shed light different assessment strategies however, they are all based on differentiating the way how students represent their learning “written reports, power point presentation, demonstration etc…” The key point here is the idea of ongoing assessment for students’ performance and measuring their progress related to their own work. I consider this kind of assessment as a true evaluation to the process of learning and how can each individual student monitor his/her progress. This might seem overwhelming and needs a lot of work for teachers who mostly lack the adequate training and knowledge of how students differ in their perception and strategic expression abilities. This is also added to their minimal knowledge of disability issues and how to suitably administer accommodations to overcome the limitations caused by these disabilities. Besides, they lack the ongoing training on using new software programs that would enable them to find implementing differentiating methods of assessment an approachable goal. Even if some teachers found their way through this dilemma still this issue needs more strategic changes from the general education system in order to adopt new approaches of assessment and grading so teachers can benefit from the technical and professional development support.
I think that there is no absolute best way of assessment that can be applied on all kinds of learners as even the same student can perform differently in different occasions and circumstances. So evaluating one’s performance should be an ongoing process. Portfolio system is a good example of formative assessment that can specify different level of proficiency.