It is imperative, for the success of our students, that we do not limit our students by establishing a set of expectations based on labels. There is a common misconception that students with exceptionalities or learning disabilities will not be able to cope with the assigned work or will be unsuccessful in mainstream classes. As Cooper points out, the majority students with exceptionalities or learning disabilities should not be underestimated and should be given the same opportunities to succeed that every other student receives (Cooper, 123). That being said, if a student is performing below grade level or requires alternative lesson plans and adapted assignments then that is perfectly acceptable. However, we need to ensure that we are communicating this with the student and the student’s parents so that they are aware that the student is not performing at the standard (Cooper, 133).
Furthermore, it is important that we mark students by the same standards. Rubrics are one way to promote fair and equal evaluation. An instructional rubric should clarify expectations and should help to focus a teacher’s instruction (Andrade, pg. 27). Therefore, students are reminded of the expectations, desired quality and objectives of assignments before, during and after completion. Teachers can then use a rubric to assess how each student performs based on a predetermined set of expectations. In addition, it is beneficial for students to collaborate with teachers during the development of a rubric for assignments. This helps to further students’ understanding of the function of rubrics and the expectations of the assignment, however it is important to remember that the overall evaluation must come from the teacher (Cooper, 125).
My mom is an educational assistant. She spends her days working with a variety of students who require diverse approaches to education. Her role is not to provide her students with the answers, but rather to provide them with the skills, support and encouragement they need to be successful. For some students this means providing extra time or a break to reduce stress anxiety, while for others it might mean open ended questions or prompts to get them thinking. As an EA my mom strives to understand her students’ needs and to create different approaches and techniques to make learning a fun and successful experience for her students. Furthermore, her role is especially important because she uses her understanding of her students’ needs and abilities and communicates that information to the teacher to assist with their assessment and the way that they structure assignments and assessment. Her role as an EA demonstrates how assessment can be a collaborative process and how important it is to include all students in that process. Fairness does not have to mean that students must learn in the same way at the same time, but rather that they have an equity of opportunity (Cooper, 141). Assessment does not have to be the sole responsibility of the teacher; educational assistants, students and fellow teachers can all play a significant role in the assessment process.
Cooper, D. (2010). Talk About Assessment: High School Strategies and Tools. Toronto, On: Nelson.
Andrade, Heidi. "Teaching with Rubrics; The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" College Teaching. Vol. 53, No. 1