Standard #6: Assessment
The teacher understands and uses multiple methods of assessment to engage learners in their own growth, to monitor learner progress, and to guide the teacher’s and learner’s decision making.
When most people think of assessment in the classroom they think of homework assignments, standardized tests, and long papers. Music educators are fortunate enough that our discipline allows us to evaluate student behavior, knowledge, and skill level through a variety of creative mediums. While assessment is important for tracking a student's ability, assessment strategies can also help a teacher gauge his or her effectiveness as an educator. Assessment must also have a purpose and be done at the right time. More specifically, a teacher should use formative and summative assessment strategies to evaluate different stages of a student's ability and knowledge.
Formative assessment should be done daily throughout each lesson. This can be done by moving about the classroom while students are working to listen to their intonation or observe their work. Question and answer activities are also helpful for evaluating the students' understanding and keeping them engaged in the lesson. At the end of a unit or semester, summative assessment should be used to determine the overall progress of a student. Using each type of assessment allows teachers to view their students individually and as a class, which in turn helps them determine their own effectiveness as a teacher so that they can decide how to adapt their teaching strategies or curriculum to best suit their student's needs. For most teachers, summative assessment involves a midterm or final exam or a long paper. Music educators on the other hand have countless creative ways to assess the end of a unit. For a high school theory classroom the teacher could require a composition project at the end of the semester that incorporates compound meter, a melody set to poetry, and a bass line to assess the students understanding of those concepts. In an ensemble setting, summative assessment could be as simple as a concert performance or a playing test via SmartMusic.
Self-assessment and peer-assessment are both extremely crucial for any educator. Almost all of my courses at Ball State have required me to record my teachings, conducting, lessons, and performances and reflect on them. Recording myself helps me see or hear things that I would normally not be aware of in the moment or remember after the fact. For example, I may not notice myself pacing around the room aimlessly during a lecture, or I may not have heard a section of a piece that needed addressed that I had missed during a rehearsal. Watching and listening back to a recording helps me to assess myself and my students much more critically and precisely than I could accomplish in the moment.