Reliable assessments for classroom use remains a challenge, says Google-backed study
A small study recently conducted by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) found a dearth of valid and reliable assessments for measuring student learning in computer science education.
The survey, released during CSTA’s annual conference, highlights the challenges high school teachers face when examining student understanding of computing concepts and identifying current models for computer science assessment.
The study used in-depth interviews with twenty-five high school computer science teachers during the 2014-2015 academic year and found that while CS teachers use a variety of formative and summative assessment techniques and rely on an assortment of sources (test banks, colleagues, even their own undergraduate CS courses), finding valid and reliable assessments to use in their classrooms remains a challenge.
Participants also noted that the variability in how students approach and develop algorithms makes assessment especially challenging and time-consuming.
As a result, CSTA made a number of recommendations to its community:
- Develop valid and reliable formative and summative assessments for programming languages beyond Java, such as Python, C#, etc.
- Develop an online repository of assessment items for K-12 computer science teachers.
- Develop a community of practice surrounding the use of assessment in computer science classrooms.
- Design and deliver professional development to increase K-12 computer science teachers’ assessment literacy.
“Computer science education is at a crossroads,” said Dr. Aman Yadav, Associate Professor in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology at Michigan State University and chair of the CSTA Assessment Taskforce. “It is crucial that schools, school districts and state education leaders not only provide access to CS for all students, but also equip teachers with the tools and resources they need to understand if and how their students are learning and understanding the concepts that will prepare them for the jobs of the future.”
Conducted by CSTA, the survey was funded by Google. Complete results are available online.
Material from a press release was used in this report.