Self Assessment for Primary Grades

smiley sad faces
This week I had my first observation by my field instructor which prompted conversations about how to have students in the primary grades assess themselves. My lesson was a science writing lesson in which the students had to write two sentences: one saying what they did and one saying what they saw as a result of what they did. They also had to draw a picture portraying what they wrote with at least one of the materials used during science labeled. I repeated these three requirements many times and wrote them on the board as well. What I listed in my lesson plan for how students would self-assess is that they would check they had done these three things and then have a partner check for the three criteria before signing off on the work. When I collected their papers, 16 students out of 21 had all three criteria, two were borderline on one of the criteria, and 3 only had two of the criteria.

My field instructor advised I provide a rubric for the students showing what a 1, 2, 3, or 4, would be, then she quickly had to rush to another observation. My cooperating teacher and I discussed this. We both worried it would put too much emphasis on grades, training students to only be concerned with what they HAD to do to obtain a 3 or 4, rather than having the emphasis be on learning and working hard. Later that afternoon in further conversation with my field instructor, she suggested a smiley face to sad face scale for the students to check off instead of number scores. Both my cooperating teacher and I felt more comfortable with this version of a rubric.

What have you seen or used, particularly with younger students? What are your feelings about student self assessment?

8 thoughts on “Self Assessment for Primary Grades

  1. Hmmmm…your post brings up questions for me about what self-assessment looks like and what it can be used for. I guess it has a lot to do with, can students measure whether they have met the stated objectives and what else needs to be done in order to meet the objectives. But then I feel like that’s kind of a shallow use of self-assessment; shouldn’t we be pushing students to self-assess what connections the objectives have to their own lives and the world they live in? I feel like I have more questions than answers, and I’d love to know what you and your field instructor except to come out of those self-assessment, especially in terms of designing further instruction.

    1. I like what you say about the student’s self assessment coming from how students make connections to their lives and the world. You’re right, that does sound much more authentic! It is too easy for a student to lie to please a teacher or judge themselves too harshly if only evaluating how well he or she did.

  2. Student self-assessment has, I feel, been a weak part of my own lesson-planning, so I too am ever eager to hear about possible strategies. My question is: if you’re replacing numbers with cartoon faces in order to discourage an obsession with grades, have you really done that, or have you just made it look like you have? I don’t have as much experience with younger elementary kids myself. I guess I’m thinking that some sort of qualitative self-assessment – i.e., where they’re really thinking about what they know, don’t know, and need to learn – might be better for really igniting an interest in learning than either smiley-faces or numbers.

    1. I see what you’re saying Craig about the faces possibly still not taking away the obsession with grades or upon further thinking on my part, the need to please the teacher particularly for younger students. See future gets schooled and my comments above, too.

  3. I like the mood faces for the younger students. Maybe up through 4th grade really. I saw self and peer assessment happen in my class this week. Though the teacher was very clear about a ‘3’ meaning ‘You did what you were supposed to’ without extra bells and whistles, I saw students giving 5’s to themselves and their peers across the evaluation.

    I observed the class’s work over three days and very few 5’s were warranted.

    I agree about the obsession over the ‘grade’ but even with careful and purposeful explanation, how can we really ensure students are always looking to mark themselves as having done THE BEST when it’s really only their mid-range work? I’ve been pondering this a great deal as well. I think the readings for Literacy class this week actually tie in really well with this particular topic.

  4. I briefly want to share my experience in a 3rd grade classroom. My CT had students self asses themselves and I thought that just like in Jarucia’s comment, many of the students would give dishonest ratings and say they were on task when they really weren’t. However, my particular students did a wonderful job assessing themselves very truthfully. My teacher gave students multiple choice, for example they had to circle whether they were on task the whole time, talking a little bit, or mostly off task. When she passed out the self assessment she told them that the most important thing is to fill it out honestly. She emphasized on the fact that she will grade them for honest self-assessment, so they would get an A for being able to assess themselves truthfully and not graded based on whether they were actually on task or not! When the students knew that the emphasis was on evaluating themselves honestly they actually did it and I have to say I was quite impressed to see that! 

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