Assessment…the Challenge

Assessment…the Challenge

Assessment…a common discussion topic among some of my closest educator friends.  This topic has created lots of excitement, new opportunities and many times outright anger.  Exploring our changing practices, the value of feedback versus marks and the importance of creating learning spaces that encourage student growth have provided me with many opportunities for heated debate.

Today I was challenged to say how I really feel…a challenge that creates more questions for me than answers.  How do I feel about assessment?

There are a few things I know for sure.

Assessment is necessary for growth. Without it how do we know where to go next, how to improve and what we need to work on?

Assessment is subjective.  Assessment using the same guidelines can still vary between teachers based on experience and personal opinions

Assessment influences people in different ways.  Some people are motivated to do better based on harsh feedback or assessment, others need positive feedback and gentle nudges to improve their motivation to improve.

Assessment needs to take many forms.  Students need to be able to demonstrate their learning in multiple ways.  They need to showcase creativity, inquiry and good old test taking skills.

However, there are many more things I don’t know. A few of my questions include:

  • What is more important, process or product?
  • Why the focus on marks?
  • What exactly does 87% mean?
  • How does 75% tell me anything about a student?
  • Why do we compare students to each other using numerical values?
  • Why do these values matter in real life?
  • How do we eliminate “life problems” from assessment?

I could continue to create these types of questions, enough to fill a page!

There is one thing I know for sure; teachers who don’t have all the answers inspire me.  Any teacher who takes the time to reflect on their assessment processes, to question the way we currently report to students and parents and to wonder about all the types of questions I’ve listed above, is exactly the type of teacher I want teaching my children.  Teachers who grow, learn and change the world one day at a time!