Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why You Don't Co-Mingle Formative and Summative Observation Data

The teacher observer paradox... The fewer observations you do, the more you think you know.  The more observations you do, the more you know you don’t know.

Though the summative and formative observation processes have similarities, they are SEPARATE entities.

To co-mingle data for both formative and summative purposes actually means that EVERY visit is SUMMATIVE, no matter what we tell teachers.  Which means that the safest course of action for a teacher when an observer enters the room is to maintain the status quo.  Better to be boring and safe, than risk stretching one’s practice, failing and having that one 3-minute observation coming back to haunt you. 

Formative observations can inform and focus summative conferences. But the bottom line is, practice is practice, and game time is game time.  For those who still don’t get it, here’s a clarifying analogy. 

In Texas, schools are rated based on the STAAR test (summative).  Schools use assessments and benchmarks (formative) to gauge progress and adjust instruction throughout the year, to better succeed at the STAAR test. Not one school has its rating impacted by the first 6-week unit test of the year.  That obviously would be asinine.  As is counting informal, unannounced walk-thru’s towards a teacher’s evaluation.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...
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