For my assessment assignment, I chose to look at Fresh Grade as a means of assessment. Through my observations in the classroom I have become very interested in and passionate about involving parents in the learning process of their children. I have chosen to base my inquiry project around this idea and Fresh Grade is one way to engage with parents. The purpose of researching Fresh Grade was to look at both the positives and negatives of using a program like Fresh Grade for assessments, both for the students and for the teacher, and how it can assist in the process of parent involvement.
One of the positives of using Fresh Grade is that it makes it easy for students to assess for learning. Students can be involved in: making criteria, using criteria for learning, and collecting and presenting evidence of learning (Davies, 2011, p. 55). Children tend to be very savvy with the use of technology and are very capable of downloading pictures of evidence onto their digital portfolio. From a conversation with a teacher, and from what I read, Grade 4 seems to be the appropriate age for children using the Fresh Grade program on their own (Rispin, 2016 and Fresh Grade). The teacher’s role, in this case, would be to guide the students through this process, answering any questions and facilitating the learning. Having children involved in the assessment process not only helps their learning take place, but it also frees up some of the teachers time, so he/she is better able to serve the students.
One of the downsides of using Fresh Grade is that only children of the Grade 4 level and older are able to use the Fresh Grade program themselves, which means that for the younger grades the teacher has to be much more involved with the assessment of the children’s learning. Rather than spending his/her time helping to guide the children through the learning process, the teacher would have to spend time doing the assessment of learning outside of class time, or have it interfere with time in the class (Jolliet, 2016).
Another positive is that teachers using Fresh Grade only have to provide a formal report card at the end of the year. This is beneficial to the teacher because it frees up valuable time that would otherwise be spent writing reports during the reporting period. Since the teacher and/or student is collecting evidence throughout the year and the parent is viewing it through the fresh grade application, it is deemed unnecessary to supply three formal reports. Because of this, it is assumed that parents receive tangible evidence of their child’s learning throughout the year.
However, from my personal experience, parents don’t always receive the information they are supposed to from the teachers. Last year, my son’s teacher used fresh grade, but did not explain it or communicate in any way about the benefits of using the program and I didn’t know how to access it. I went the entire year without looking at his assessments, although I was assured he was doing fine. In my friend’s case, although she was able to view Fresh Grade throughout the year, she received a formal report card for her son last year that stated the teacher didn’t have enough material to assess her child’s skill at Math. This was definitely a failure on the teacher’s part. However, if the child had received a similar report card earlier in the year both the mother and the teacher would have recognized that there was a problem and worked to rectify it.
Assessment is not just for the teachers knowledge, it is important for parents to be involved because parents play such a huge role in their child’s learning and can help their child if they are struggling (DePlanty, 2007; Wright, 2010). Finding out your child is struggling at the end of the year is not helpful and can affect the child’s learning in a negative way.
From what I have researched and discussed with parents and teachers, fresh grade is only as good as those operating and viewing it. Teachers can fail to gather enough evidence to justify a child’s mark and not realize until the end of the year, when it is too late. On the other hand, parents can fail to view the information being assessed and gathered, making the collection of material useless. This is a problem with all forms of assessment. Tools need to be used for them to work. This requires both the teacher and the parent to be involved in the child’s assessment.
Davies, Anne. Making Classroom Assessment Work. 3rd Edition. Connect 2 Learning,
DePlanty, Jennifer and Russell Coulter-Kern and Kim A. Duchane. Perceptions of
Parent Involvement in Academic Achievement. The Journal of Educational
Research, 100:6, 361-368. 2007.
Fresh Grade Webinar: Getting Started with Fresh Grade for Teachers. (June 9, 2016)
Fresh Grade Website. https://www.freshgrade.com
Jolliet, Sara. Personal Communication. September 28, 2016.
Lockert, Sonja. Personal Communication. October 29, 2016.
Rispin, Keith. Personal Communication. October, 28, 2016
Wright, Robert J. “Family Involvement and Engagement”. Multifaceted Assessment for Early Childhood Education. Sage Publications, 2010. Pgs. 243-260