Authors and summary: This is chapter 9 in From Reader to Reading Teacher by Aebersold and Field. It discusses alternative methods of assessing reading, traditional methods, writing tests, and planning course-level assessment.
Thoughts: This text again makes reference to journals and portfolios. These are two strategies that are popping up all over the place and two ideas that I really like. Right now, I think that students should be taught how to summarize, classify, compare, and analyze texts. This is taken out of Mike Rose's Lives on the Boundary. The other skills that keep popping up are interpreting and synthesizing, which may overlap with some of Rose's four strategies.
I think one method for assessment that would be valuable would be to include reading passages of comparable difficulty throughout a course in which students mark unknown words, summarize, and analyze each text. Over time, the students unknown words per page should decrease and their summaries and analyses should improve.
To assess is to engage in an ongoing process that may include exams, progress tests, quizzes, exercises worked in class or at home, or any other kind of testing or learning instrument. To test, in contrast, is to administer a single instrument that tests one or more aspects of a student's learning. (p. 167)
Your group discussions of the worst test experience may have high-lighted the tendency of tests to make students feel inadequate and insecure. Shohamy's study The Power of Tests (1993) reiterates Foucault's (1979) argument that tests are "the most powerful and efficient tool through which society imposes discipline" (Shohamy 1993: 2). Societies' tests, from driver's license tests to civil service examinations, wield that kind of power. Within the classroom teachers have a similar power. They can use tests to punish and to exclude or they can develop tests that have the primary purpose of being teaching tools to enhance learning. (p. 172-173)