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Using Graduate Case Studies: Walking the Path to Dynamic Authentic Assessment
Unformatted Document Text:  Using Graduate Case Studies: Walking the Path to Dynamic Authentic Assessment (do we want to change this to dynamic performance assessment?) Description: This paper examines the evolution of the culminating experience of one graduateprogram. It describes the implementation of a dynamic comprehensive exam designed tomeasure application of learning to practice. Section I: Content A. Statement of the Issue Research demonstrates the importance of aligning assessment with content standards (AERA, 2003) but cautions that it is critical that assessments match the content, cover a wide rangeof knowledge, are cognitively demanding and avoid irrelevant materials (AERA, 2003). Case-basedpedagogy is one way of linking program content to classroom practice. Much of the research onusing case methods calls for using cases to “…create bridges across the great chasm that dividespolicy from practice” (Shulman, 2000, p. 2) in order to help teachers understand the how practice isconstructed in the classroom. Within case-based pedagogy, the cases become teaching tools thatserve as context for making meaning of concepts presented in class. The purpose of this paper is to exam the use of Graduate Case Studies as a culminating activity (comprehensive exam) in one concurrent M.A. in Education, Option in Reading andReading/Language Arts Specialist credential program (RRLA) in a large, urban public universitywith a diverse student population. As such it asks the following questions? 1. Are Graduate Case Studies an effective way for students to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and disposition learned in the program? 2. Can Graduate Studies be linked to program content in order to help faculty improve programs? 3. Can candidates use Graduate Case Studies to demonstrate what they know about serving culturally and linguistically diverse urban students? B. Literature Review In this age of heightened accountability, academia is increasingly being asked to link assessment to candidate performance outcomes in multiple ways. In the RRLA comprehensiveexam, we provide candidates with opportunities to examine, understand and demonstrate knowledgeof relationships among theory, research, practice, and decision-making and demonstrate deepknowledge of curriculum and instructional approaches for students who are experiencing difficultiesin reading and language arts, including a broad and in-depth knowledge of instructional programsand specialized materials. The current exam is a dynamic and authentic assessment in whichcandidates are asked to apply the program’s course content though the use of Graduate Case Studies.Since the program content is linked to specific program standards, the exam can be seen to alignassessment with standards as a means of authentically measuring candidates’ knowledge,dispositions and skills. Much has been written about how assessment practices have and have not changed in the past 100 years (Shepard, 2004). Brown (1996) argues that the construction of school is ofteninformed by outdated theories, without taking into account new understandings from the field. Thiscan happen from conflicts that arise when there is a disconnect between assessment and instruction.

Authors: Ulanoff, Sharon., Fingon, Joan. and Beltrán, Dolores.
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Using Graduate Case Studies: Walking the Path to Dynamic Authentic Assessment (do we
want to change this to dynamic performance assessment?)
Description: This paper examines the evolution of the culminating experience of one graduate
program. It describes the implementation of a dynamic comprehensive exam designed to
measure application of learning to practice.
Section I: Content
A. Statement of the Issue
Research demonstrates the importance of aligning assessment with content standards
(AERA, 2003) but cautions that it is critical that assessments match the content, cover a wide range
of knowledge, are cognitively demanding and avoid irrelevant materials (AERA, 2003). Case-based
pedagogy is one way of linking program content to classroom practice. Much of the research on
using case methods calls for using cases to “…create bridges across the great chasm that divides
policy from practice” (Shulman, 2000, p. 2) in order to help teachers understand the how practice is
constructed in the classroom. Within case-based pedagogy, the cases become teaching tools that
serve as context for making meaning of concepts presented in class.
The purpose of this paper is to exam the use of Graduate Case Studies as a culminating
activity (comprehensive exam) in one concurrent M.A. in Education, Option in Reading and
Reading/Language Arts Specialist credential program (RRLA) in a large, urban public university
with a diverse student population. As such it asks the following questions?
1. Are Graduate Case Studies an effective way for students to demonstrate the knowledge,
skills and disposition learned in the program?
2. Can Graduate Studies be linked to program content in order to help faculty improve
programs?
3. Can candidates use Graduate Case Studies to demonstrate what they know about serving
culturally and linguistically diverse urban students?
B. Literature Review
In this age of heightened accountability, academia is increasingly being asked to link
assessment to candidate performance outcomes in multiple ways. In the RRLA comprehensive
exam, we provide candidates with opportunities to examine, understand and demonstrate knowledge
of relationships among theory, research, practice, and decision-making and demonstrate deep
knowledge of curriculum and instructional approaches for students who are experiencing difficulties
in reading and language arts, including a broad and in-depth knowledge of instructional programs
and specialized materials. The current exam is a dynamic and authentic assessment in which
candidates are asked to apply the program’s course content though the use of Graduate Case Studies.
Since the program content is linked to specific program standards, the exam can be seen to align
assessment with standards as a means of authentically measuring candidates’ knowledge,
dispositions and skills.
Much has been written about how assessment practices have and have not changed in the
past 100 years (Shepard, 2004). Brown (1996) argues that the construction of school is often
informed by outdated theories, without taking into account new understandings from the field. This
can happen from conflicts that arise when there is a disconnect between assessment and instruction.


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