Long before the polls close on mock election day in my classroom, I´ve thoughtfully planned out how I will assess what children have learned over the previous months. I follow these steps John Jarolimek and Walter C. Parker outline in their new book Social Studies in Elementary Education (10th Ed., Prentice Hall/Regents, 1996):
- Before we even begin to study citizenship and elections, I look at my objectives to pin down what I want students to learn. I think about processes, knowledge, and attitudes.
- I determine how kids might exhibit or demonstrate what they have learned, always remembering there´s more to learning than just paper-and-pencil formats.
- I create my scoring rubric, which includes three levels of achievement — proficient, adequate, and emerging — and make sure I indicate or describe what each level "looks" like (see sample below).
- I share the rubric with my students and, inevitably, rewrite descriptions that children find confusing.
- We try using the rubric, and almost always, I revise it as I make end-of-the-unit evaluations.
Proficient: In his or her written, oral, and project work, this student
- shows considerable level of understanding of how the electoral process works.
- frequently uses accurate examples to clarify explanation.
- supports explanation with a list or diagram of the steps.
- includes specific ideas about the role of the citizen in the electoral process.
- demonstrates adequate knowledge of how the electoral process works.
- occasionally uses examples to clarify explanation, but some examples are questionable.
- includes ideas about the role of the citizen in the electoral process that lack depth.
- addresses the electoral process but shows minimal understanding.
- lacks connections to what we did in class.
- includes few examples or limited or inaccurate ideas about the role of the citizen in the electoral process.