Assessment-The How, What, and Why, Part 3

Recently, MENC members discussed assessment on the MENC general music forum. Here are some ideas on WHAT to assess:

“If you want your students to know it, you need to assess whether they do.” says Amy Anderson. “Choose assessment instruments that best reflect what you are trying to assess. For example, for expressive response, I often have students create movements in response to music and watch them. I give them a score based on a rubric. For form, we work on learning form through various means (listening, moving, playing, etc.), but to assess I usually give a short written quiz. I play examples and have them choose the correct response. It’s quick to give and quick to grade. I only have four questions because we have a 4-point scale.”

Anderson says that assessing students improves her teaching. “Assessment doesn’t need to take a lot of time. You need to find ways to build it into your lessons. Playing a song game? What skills does it cover? How can you assess your students while they play the game? Figure it out, and do the assessment. It’s so much more helpful to plan the lessons your students need instead of the ones you want to teach. Assessment helps you determine what activities need to be in your lessons.”

Curriculum, instruction, and assessment are all intertwined says Cindy Brewer. She judges her assessments using guidelines from Put to the Test: Tools & Techniques for Classroom Assessment by Therese Kuhs, Robert Johnson, Susan Agruso, and Diane Monrad (p. 4):

  • Assess knowledge and skills you’ve taught and that follow district guidelines and state and national standards.
  • Assess student learning in typical performances.
  • Ensure that all types of students can show what they’ve learned.

Brewer shares a rubric on a group listening exercise:

Performance Task: ABA Form, Grade __
Standard 6: Students will listen to, analyze, and describe music.
Students will identify examples of music forms, including echo, motive, phrase, same/different, call-response, verse refrain, AB, and ABA
3—Secure: The student accomplishes this task/skills with little or no teacher guidance.
2—Developing: The student accomplishes this task/skills with some teacher guidance.
1—Beginning: The student needs practice to reinforce these skills.
0—The student does not attempt this task/skill.

0 1 2 3
Form ABA

No attempt

Has 2 sections

Has 3 sections but not in the correct order  Has all 3 sections in the correct order
Modes of expression No attempt Uses 1 mode of expression Uses 2 different modes of expression Uses 3 different modes of expression for the A and B sections
Group Work No attempt Some people in the group participated or the project was not completed Most of the people in the group participated to complete the project Everyone in the group participated equally to complete the project

Assessment: The How, What, and Why, Part 1
Assessment: The How, What, and Why, Part 2

MENC members quoted:

  • Amy Anderson teaches at Maggie Cordova Elementary School in Rio Rancho, NM.
  • Cindy Brewer teaches at Boulder Bluff Elementary in Goose Creek, South Carolina, and gives in-service workshops for the Berkeley County School District.

Linda C. Brown, March 18, 2009, © National Association for Music Education (