Reassessing Assessment in the Secondary Classroom: Using Choice to Differentiate, Assess, Engage, and Promote Agency

Kathleen Durkin (Garden City High School) and Jessica Kate Anderson (Mineola High School)

Before March 2020, many teachers were exploring new ways of formatively and summatively assessing students. But traditional assessment in the Latin classroom was, like everything else, upended by the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Teachers were forced to adapt to the “new normal.” This did not come easily for many but the products of this stressful time were a thoughtful reconsideration of how, when, and why one assesses a student successfully. As Sandrock attests, “assessment is at the heart of the public conversation to improve student achievement” but also that “changing a system is not easy.” When a skilled teacher allows for creative and thoughtful ways to involve students in the assessment process, it can both engage and motivate them to achieve their maximal potential (69-78). This paper/presentation from two experienced secondary level Latin teachers focuses on how to model performance standards, tie myriad assessments to relevant state and national standards, and allow for student choice in meeting benchmarks set by student and/or teacher. While most education research and “guides” are not Latin pedagogy specific, it does not mean they do not apply to teachers of classics. Tomlinson clearly outlines scaffolds to support student success with challenging tasks in the academically diverse classroom (46). Equally diverse sets of students are in Latin classes, so it is essential to find ways to support all students along the continuum of language learning. The presenters have found that at all levels, incorporating choice into assessment (including activity over passivity) not only increases accessibility for all students (disabilities, impairments, neurodivergence, behavioral, etc.), but also allows students to produce standards-meeting work that they feel confident about. This paper/presentation will share experiences (failures and successes) with using different assessments, as well as resources and best practices for rethinking assessment in the secondary Latin classroom.

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