Archive for the ‘Assessment & Policy’ Category


Posted by serovy1 on August 7, 2011

This is a post is a rant about the connection between administration and the quality of education.It could be argued that administrators “speak their own language in a sense, meaning, each has his or her own way of handling tasks and implementing new strategies for procedures which ultimately direct and dictate a student’s path. What I have come to find as a teacher, however is that administrative staff need to also be open to learning the language of their schools. It is infinitely important that an administrative officer immerse themselves into the culture of the school and try to work as a team along with fellow colleagues, students and staff. If this doesn’t happen, it creates a real distance between everyone. Students don’t get what they need, and teachers become frustrated with the lack of understanding in terms of how documentation and facility strategies form in conjunction with the demands of students and their learning objectives.The bottom line is that in order to solve this problem, everyone needs to communicate. More collaboration between staff means less referrals, more direct answers for students and less objections to new policies,since everyone’s needs would be considered. One way for this to happen is an increase in faculty meetings and discussion, but when daily tasks are so maxed to begin with, that may not always be possible. Thus, the potential for technology to aid in this communication between staff, teachers and students is huge. Online databases and social networking can open portals for schools that would help keep everyone informed, while offering an anonymous, open space for voicing opinions, ultimately creating more democratic, healthy learning environments where everyone is on the same page. Furthermore, it can all be done with utter CONVENIENCE. In conclusion, every school could benefit from the use of an online network.


Posted in Assessment & Policy, Critical Perspectives, Global Multiliteracy, In the Classroom, Social Networking, Technology, What is Multiliteracy? | Leave a Comment »

Formative Assessment

Posted by tricialauter on August 5, 2011

Looking for various examples of formative assessments, I have come across these two sites recently. To include multiliteracies into the curriculum and the 21st century classroom, there must be a restructuring of assessment. Summative assessments may have their place, but formative assessments provide “as you go” evaluation of a student’s learning-providing a clearer picture of what the student understands and how he or she can synthesize the information within their own lives. This can allow education to be intuitive to students’ needs. But as the burgeoning market of assessments have grown (along with NCLB), testing companies have found a way to package a truly summative assessment and label it formative. As Stephen and Jan Chappius (2008) state, “In reality, this level of testing is often little more than a series of minisummative tests, not always tightly aligned to what was taught in the classroom. There is nothing inherently formative in such tests—they may or may not be used to make changes in teaching that will lead to greater student learning.” Formative assessment is to be “on-going” and “dynamic”; creating an environment where teacher and student use the assessments to encourage further and deeper learning. Providing feedback on a continuous basis, and supporting the development of skills such as self-assessment, can transform a monolithic classroom into a classroom where student and teacher work together to improve learning. One way to provide this two way system is utilizing e-portfolios.

E-Portfolios ( A digital collection of pieces of work that are multimedia in form, e-portfolios allow interaction between the creator (student) and the viewer (teacher or peers). Viewers can provide informative feedback, creators can include various works that provide a broader picture of the skills and knowledge they have, and the portfolio can be edited and added upon as the student progresses through school. When shared among peers, e-portfolios can encourage collective learning.

Cognitive Tutor ( The cognitive tutor is a  computer learning based program that provides real-time feedback and adjusts the problems and pace of learning dependent on the needs of the student. Providing interactive and multimodal approaches to learning math skills, the Cognitive Tutor assesses a students skill as they progress through the program. If the student is struggling with a certain concept, the program will generate new problems that target the student’s weak area.

As policies are enacted that support assessment of all students, the type of assessments must be considered. If we are to truly know the knowledge and skills a student possesses, we must acknowledge the fact that we may not see a complete picture when looking at summative results. Other considerations and additional assessments must be considered.


Chappius, J. & Chappius, S. (2008). The Best Value in Formative Assessment. Educational Leadership, 65, 4, 14-19.

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100% Proficient

Posted by tricialauter on July 30, 2011

Recently, several states have raised the bar for students to demonstrate proficiency on state assessments. Michigan has requested a waiver from a law that requires “100% of students be proficient on state exams by 2014″(Higgins, 2011). With this waiver, Michigan’s education departments has increased the standard for students to pass-essentially raising the ‘cut score,’ or  “how well a student needs to perform to pass the standardized tests,” (Higgins, 2011). This new cutoff is thought to be a better indicator of how well a student is prepared to enter college or the workforce, better representing the skills that are needed-the skills that are beyond the “basics.” With this new plan, it is predicted that Michigan will see a drop in proficient students due to the more demanding standards, just as Texas has seen recently.


This change comes in the wake of the Atlanta public schools cheating scandal, as Texas state officials say that they do not want to be accused of inflating the numbers.  The new assessments are “being crafted to ensure that schools are preparing students for college or the workforce,” (Alexendar, 2011). States are feeling the pressure to meet the No Child Left Behind standards, less states, districts, and schools are “punished.” This in turn perpetuates the system of strict accountability driven by standardized tests. While these new assessments put together by Texas and Michigan education departments claim to be more rigorous, to “raise the bar,” and to better prepare students for their future, it leaves me wondering what actual skills are being assessed. Are the skills on a multiple choice test reflective of what a student will encounter after he or she graduates? Do the assessments take into consideration multiliteracies? If students become proficient on these assessments, will they be successful and happy in their lives?

As laid out in previous posts, skills of a multiliterate student go beyond what is acheived through the completion of a standardized exam. It is hard to believe that Michigan and Texas have found the answer to failing test scores.


Alexander, K. (2011). Tally of exemplary schools falls with elimination of controversial measure. The Statesman. Retrieved from

Higgins, L. (2011). Michigan’s education department seeks waiver on federal standardized test goals. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE.

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How To Do Research on Multiliteracies 101

Posted by nicholaspelafas on July 29, 2011

An important part of understanding the ways in which multiliteracies are useful is studying how people utilize them naturally and what they are inspired to do when exposed to them.  As multiliteracy is a relatively new field of study, it is a crucial time to research how multiliteracies are constructed, and to put that into dialogue with how students are taught to utilize them.  It has to do with a number of factors ranging from intuition, attraction, comfort, familiarity, goals, tasking, and inspiration; I have often wondered what a study of the efficacy of newer literacies might look like.

Surfing the web, I came across an awesome 2008 study by Mercedes Sanz Gil and María Luisa Villanueva Alfonso from the Universitat Jaume I in Spain entitled: A Critical Approach to Multiliteracy: Automates Intelligents.  The abstract reads:

In this paper we present and analyse a website with a complex rhyzomatic structure in connection with the results of a cybertask in which students were asked to read various information sources by navigating a range of websites. The results and discussion include issues such as: a) culture of learning and students’ task representation; b) possible relationships between learning styles and ways of navigating and managing information to solve a task; c) criteria students use to evaluate their navigation practices. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Semantic Web-Man Vs. Machine?

Posted by serovy1 on July 23, 2011

“The Semantic Web is a “web of data” that facilitates machines to understand the semantics, or meaning, of information on the World Wide Web.[1] It extends the network of hyperlinked human-readable web pages by inserting machine-readable metadata about pages and how they are related to each other, enabling automated agents to access the Web more intelligently and perform tasks on behalf of users. The term was coined by Tim Berners-Lee,[2] the inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”), which oversees the development of proposed Semantic Web standards. He defines the Semantic Web as “a web of data that can be processed directly and indirectly by machines.”- Wikipedia

The concept of the symantic web is SCARY, and confusing, but exciting. This new technology takes things a step further, and allows for the computer to recognize not only key words but also the relationship between data on the web. This has wonderful potential to help people in thier research and in building meanings from one another, because it will automatically filter a search more specifically to the material you are looking for. As explained above in the video and in the definition, the semantic web is not an emerging but actually a current technology that developers are actively working on. With the obvious benefits being stated, one can help but also wonder what other outcomes may arise as computers become more like mind reading research assitants and less like machines that we manipulate.

The symantic web seems like it could perpetuate a spirit of laziness that would enable people to remain within more confined realms of information based on the connectins they already have (although the opposite is also true). In all honesty, I’m still trying to process it all, but the idea that a machine can understand me is a bit jarring. Am I thinking faster than my computer,or is it thinking faster than me, and if so, how will this progressively more intelligent symantic web dictate my decisions even further. Have you ever been on facebook tagging photos, and the computer already seems to recognize the faces of your beloved family members and friends before you even type in their names. It Knows who I hang out with!!! I already feel exposed and like other people can find out anything they want about me with the click of the mouse. Now do I have to worry about a computer “knowing” everything too? Is it going to control my mind? This is SCIFI stuff indeed.

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Multiliteracy Policy Development

Posted by tricialauter on July 22, 2011

The 21st century classroom is beginning to reflect the global, digital world. Policies must follow. Policies that address multiliteracies must be developed in order to provide proper assessment and instruction. Policies within the school level, district level, and the state/national level should take into consideration the changing needs of the student population.

School Level Policies

As with any work place, an environment is established that reflects the goals and principles of its’ members. Schools must create an environment that encourages continued professional development, collaboration, and team building. Curriculum and pedagogy developed and used in the classrooms should reflect the skills students need to work and live in the global economy. Technology policies should allow integration of multiple literacies as well as provide all students the opportunity to develop specific technology and communication skills (Burbules et. al, 2006).

Distict Level Policies

In order for the school environment to support 21st century teachers and students, the district should provide access to multiple assessments, and allow input from teachers and administrators within the schools to influence district policies concerning assessment and technology. District level assessments should include formative and summative measures; acknowledging the expertise of educators. Districts should also be open to learning from other schools or professionals, especially charter schools with innovative designs (Christensen et. al, 2008).

State/National Level Policies

Policy development within the United States is influenced by many actors: political, cultural, societal. Somehow the voice of the teachers and students has been drowned out. Focus is not so much on actual understanding of learning and the context of learning, as it is about pleasing the public. As Costello and Johnson state, “The assumption behind current accountability testing is that schools as organizations, and the individuals within them, are not only unable to monitor their own performances but also are unlikely to provide the best instruction they can unless forced to do so annually through rewards and punishments,” (2006, p. 264). State and national education policy development must consider the changing landscapes of life and work in the 21st century. Standards, as the International Society of Technology in Education have outlined, should include the specific skills that are needed within these changing landscapes ( Policy should be developed with acknowledgement of the context of which students are living, creating assessments that are for learning and not of learning. State and national assessments should include both formative and summative measures, more closely resembling what students will actually encounter in their future.


Burbules, N. C., Callister, T. A., & Taaffe, C. (2006). Beyond the Digital Divide. Technology and Education: Issues in Administration, Policy, and Applications in K12 Schools Advances in Educational Administration, 8, 85-99.

Christensen, C.M., Horn M.B., & Johnson C.W. (2008). Distrupting Class: How Distruptive Innovation will Change the Way the World Learns, McGraw Hill: New York.

Costello, P. & Johnston, P. (2006). Principles for literacy assessment. Reading Research Quarterly, 40, 2. 

International Society for Technology in Education-Standards in the digital age. Retrieved from

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Multiliteracies Assessed: Examples from the Field

Posted by tricialauter on July 21, 2011

MLC School: City Experience–The City Experience is an interactive learning experiencing at a middle school in Sydney, Australia. Description of their project on their website states, “The learning that takes place is experiential, collaborative, negotiated, independent and interdependent. It challenges the notion of schooling and indeed of teaching. Students are challenged to respond to a “big question” with some guidance in the form of both written instruction and negotiated discussion. They demonstrate their individual and group learnings at a “learning celebration” held on the last day.”

The City Experience allows students to explore an area that is relevant to their lives, create a knowledge network, accessing and providing feedback to their peers and staff, and present learning through a medium that incorporates multiple literacies.

Auborn Middle School: Anywhere Learning–Students used digital tools to develop literacy, communication, and critical thinking skills. Teachers acted as facilitators, students remained motivated, and learners demonstrated 21st century skills.

21st Century Skills Assessment–A unique assessment that combines multiple choice knowledge-based questions, and authentic performance tasks to assess students’ 21st century skills. Allows for optional portfolio assessment to address skills that are not easily assessed through written portion.


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Assessing Multiliteracies

Posted by tricialauter on July 21, 2011

As the video demonstrates, the skills that are being routinely assessed through standardized tests are not commonly transferable to successful lives after graduation. The link between what and how students are learning, how they are assessed, and what they encounter within their real lives continues to weaken. But what is actually wrong with today’s assessments? What is a better way to assess the multiliterate student?

Time for a Change

Current assessments do not reflect the social and cultural needs of the students; the skills needed in the new economy and the digital world. As discussed in earlier posts, the way one learns has changed. Work, civic and private lives have changed with the compression of time and space (New London Group, 1996). Answering multiple choice questions does not demonstrate the skills to work within a diverse setting, communicate effectively, or successfully complete a group based project. “The end result is a widening gap between the knowledge and skills students are acquiring in schools and the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the increasingly global, technology-infused, 21st century workplace…We must move from primarily measuring discrete knowledge to measuring students’ ability to think critically, examine problems, gather information, and make informed, reasoned decisions while using technology,” (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2007).

Assessments then, must reflect the context of learning. “Learning must form the basis of our assessment practice,” and it must “be grounded in processes that reflect current understandings of learning, literacy, and society,” (Costello, P. & Johnston, P., 2006, p. 265). For assessment to reflect the principles of multiliteracies, it must take into consideration the way a diverse student population learns, as well as the global and technological context of life. Assessments must acknowledge the multiple paths of understanding, learning, and literacy development. Read the rest of this entry »

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Skills of the Multiliterate Student

Posted by tricialauter on July 20, 2011


Learning has changed.

The way we acquire, sift through, analyze, and synthesize knowledge within a global, digital world has forced us to use a different skill set. Becoming “literate” in the 21st century is much more than learning how to navigate written text. To truly thrive witin this new learning paradigm, one must become multiliterate.  Therefore, “literacy pedagogy now must account for the burgeoning variety of text forms” (New London Group, 1996, p. 2). Multiliteracies then is the  recognition of the “multiplicity of communications channels and media, and the increasing saliency of cultural and linguistic diversity,” focusing on “the realities of increasing local diversity and global connectedness,” (New London Group, 1996, p.3).

Multiliteracies Map created by the Government of South Australia

Students must be taught a skill set that reflects this new context of learning. Not only will they need to learn letter-sound relationships but also how to freely move in between formal and informal text, analyze text and symbols, understand relation between images, layout, and text, and create meaning making from these interactions (New London Group, 1996).

Multiliteracy Skills: 

-ability to apply knowledge to new situations

-use of technologies to solve problems and communicate (Partnership for 21st Skills)

-able to examine problems and collaborate to think of creative solutions (Partnership for 21st Skills)

-able to gather information from multiple sources (and critique sources validity)

-work productively with linguistic and cultural diversity (Kalantzis et. al, 2003),

-synthesize knowledge and become teachers and communicators; express knowledge in multimodal ways (Kalantzis et. al, 2003)

-understand the various meaning making interactions of text, images, and context (New London Group, 1996)

-negotiate regional, ethnic, or class-based dialects (New London Group, 1996)

As technology plays an increasingly larger role within the new economy, skills must be developed to quickly and effectively navigate various  knowledge networks with “up-skilling” happening continuously (Kalantzis, 2003). Technology has transformed the very notion of reading and writing. Blogging, tagging, tweeting, updates, and hyperlinks have allowed consumers to become producers; linking and connecting one producer to another, one knowledge network to another. “The open nature of Web 2.0 platforms, connected by hyperlinking, lets learners pursue connections across multiple lines of thought…literacy requirements for such searches are very complex, shift rapidly, and require new skills that encompass a more worldly, public literacy,” (Alexendar, 2008, p. 156-158). As Kalantzis et. al (2003) summarizes:

Learning will increasingly be about creating a kind of person, with kinds of dispositions and orientations to the world, and not just persons who are in command of a body of knowledge. These persons will be able to navigate change and diversity, learn as they go, solve problems, collaborate, and be flexible and creative. Promoting these qualities, however, requires significant change to both assessment and curriculum regimes (p. 23).”

 Assessment must then be centered around these new literacies and new literacy skills, and the technology that magnifies them.


Alexendar, B. (2008). Web 2.0 and emergent multiliteracies. Theory into Practice, 47, p. 150-160. 

Government of South Australia. (2010).The multiliteracies map. Retrieved from

Kalantzis, M., Cope, B., & Harvey, A. (2003). Assessing multiliteracies and the new basics. Assessment in Education, 10, 1, p.15-26. 

New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66, 1. 

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2007). 21st Century skills assessment: A Partnership for 21st century skills e-paper. Retrieved from

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Lessons from Atlanta Public Schools

Posted by tricialauter on July 19, 2011

A few weeks ago, widespread cheating on standardized tests among school officials and staff in Atlanta public schools was reported. The breaking story brought outrage and frustration. Overall, disappoint in the learning environments that have been taken hostage by increased high-stakes testing legislation permeated the Web 2.0 world.

As witnessed in the APS story, standardized assessments (with the negative consequences of failure) have created an atmosphere of competition that can be lethal to a child’s education. Within this atmosphere, teachers, administrators, and students are pressured to show improvement in learning discrete facts that do not reflect the multimodal, multiliterate, complex, and diverse world of which they live. Mary Kalantzis, Bill Cope, and Andrew Harvey (2003) describe in their article, “Assessing Multiliteracies and the New Basics,” the continued inadequecy of standardized measurements of assessments.

“Traditional assessment techniques are inadequete to measure the kind of skills and sensibilities required in the new economy…new assessment techniques means redefining what is meant by terms such as competence, ability, capacity, and intelligence (p. 24).”

Kalantzis et. al (2003) would argue that what is being assessed is far from what is needed in the lives and workplaces of today’s students. A leading organization in advocating for 21st century skills within education, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, provides guidance in what new assessments should look like.

“We must move from primarily measuring discrete knowledge to measuring students’ ability to think critically, examine problems, gather information, and make informed reasoned decisions while using technology (P21 e-paper, 2007).”

Though educational experts have called for reform within school assessment policy, change has been slow. It bears the question: Who really is in charge of reform? Though educators and administrators may understand learning better than 50 years ago, assessments have changed very little. Though educators and administrators may see the benefit of multiliteracies within the classroom, there is still pressure to “make the grade.” Not only are dishonesty and lack of integrity being witnessed by students in the APS, but students are also witnessing how learning, knowledge, and education are really valued.


Kalantzis, M., Cope, B., & Harvey, A. (2003). Assessing multiliteracies and the new basics. Assessments in Education, 10, 1, p. 15-26.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2007). 21st century skills assessment: A Partnership for 21st century skills e-paper. Retrieved from:

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