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More on assessment…

I think Wesley Fryer summed it up best over at his “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” blog:

Rather than adopting policies about technologies that are banned, school districts would be better advised to have their teachers craft new assessments. Our goal should not be, “How can we maintain our instructional and assessment paradigms from the 19th century today in our 21st century digital culture?” but rather “How can we craft authentic assessments our students cannot fake and they can take with open notes?”

But the powers that be would never go for such a plan. Teachers? Driving curriculum? NO! NEVER! Won’t happen!

Think again. Look here and here.

Also, read a online chat transcript regarding High Stakes Testing over at Education Week (it’s a free registration to read, I should have said that the other day in my post!). My personal best quote had to be a portion of the answer to Terrill Wyche’s question: “What purpose does the testing system serve? Couldn’t a portfolio assessment system serve the same purpose as the testing system?” There are 2 parts to David Berliner’s answer that struck me funny:

  1. “I wouldn’t want to base a decision on the knowledge base of a dental hygienist on the basis of the portfolio she presents to me were i the state examiner–its too ideosyncratic and may not cover all the areas I’d want info about.”
  2. “But if there weren’t high stakes attached to these tests then a portfolio could be used. So they are great in a classroom, for sharing growth of kids with their parents…”

His answer goes on to discuss that without the high stakes testing, there would be no way to determine the strength of the teachers in the classroom, schools and school districts based on “reliability and validity”.

My thoughts on this answer is this, is not the goal of assessing our students to show the knowledge gained by our very students? Bringing the argument of what a dental hygienist knows and demonstrates in a portfolio to me is apples and oranges. I’ve never said I was against some sort of test to determine basic skills acquisition. I grew up taking the CTBS and SAT tests in elementary and middle schools. I always performed well into the 80th to 90th percentiles because there was no stress attached to the testing. So who is putting all the pressure on the students to perform well on these tests, or else? Adults, up on up all the way to President Bush and the NCLB. I go back to what Rhode Island and New Hampshire is doing. Think of how much stress would be reduced from bottom on up. Our students feed off of what the teacher is feeling. They know when something is happening in a teacher’s personal life. So if they know/feel the stress of the teacher, they are going to take on that stress. District Administrators are putting stress on Principals, who put it on the teachers. Again, it’s a trickle down effect.

Here’s a final thought. My daughter just finished her 3rd DIBELS assessment and SAT-9 testing in the last few weeks. She’s 15 days from finishing her 2nd Grade year in school. She’s an above average student, gets bored easily in school because as she professes, “I know this stuff already daddy”. Yes…I’m sure I exaggerate because I’m the parent. But this is a child that has been stressing about taking the 3rd Grade FCAT test since she started the 1st Grade. Because she doesn’t want to fail the 3rd Grade if she doesn’t pass it. Now tell me, is this the type of environment conducive to maximize student learning? Again, I ramble on sometimes, but when it comes to this ‘high stakes’ talk, why not keep the ‘high stakes’ in Vegas where it belongs?

Seeking the Wisdom of the Ages…


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