Friday, April 21, 2006

We Need More Assessment, Not Less

Did I get your attention? If so, then this is worth your time:

Here's a radical idea: We need more assessment, not less.

Seem crazy? Substitute feedback for assessment, and you'll better understand what I mean. The point of assessment in education is to advance learning, not to merely audit absorption of facts. That's true whether we're talking about that fourth-period pop quiz, the school play, or the state test. No one ever mastered a complicated idea or skill the first -- or fifth -- time. To reach any genuine standard, we need lots of trials, errors, and adjustments based on feedback.

Think of assessment, then, as information for improving.

I really like that last sentence. I'd really like to change assessment at AHS to focus on improving, not evaluating. What do you think are some ways we could work on that?


  1. I agree entirely. I much prefer feedback than a mere number scawled on my paper. And, as for the improving as opposed to evaluating grades, it works wonderfully. My GT teacher at Newton, Mrs. Getzel has mastered the art. Her classes were the hardest I've taken yet and I learned the most, and she based our grades on improving as opposed to a percentage. I would suggest talking to her for ideas, she's really very good at it.

  2. Molly you are so wise. This is how we grow: seeing our weaknesses and then having the opportunity, practice, motivation, and successes to improve upon our skills.

    I have recently been part of a Language Arts group at the district that is exploring essential learnings and common assessments. It is interesting that the teachers immediately get "fired up" thinking about giving students TESTS, but when you read this Molly, you read it as feedback. This is the paradigm shift we all need.