The impossible task

This week we were challenged to pick a digital assessment tool we haven’t used before, use it, and report back on the blog. It is fairly well documented, but I am not allowed to use a computer in my classroom, so I am going to comment on assessment in general.

Amanda Ronan defines assessmment in Every Teachers Guide to Assessment  as “the measurement of what students are learning” and that “the information gleaned from assessments is extremely valuable.” While both of those statements are true, a big part of assessment is figuring out how how to take the data I have in front of me and turn it into a meaningful story that explains to students and parents what they have learned in school. It is an outdated expectation of the education system.

Launel points out in her post that “the politics of education are interlaced with assessment”, and I believe that to be true. Student learning does not always fit nicely into the box on the report card, but we are expected to fill it out because that’s the way we have always done it, and its what parents and the community in general expects. Assessment used to be something we did to students, and held against them if necessary. The report card evolved into a tool for student behavioral control and school marks became a currency that teachers used to influence effort. For the most part marks had little to do with our learning. Now, there are many ways for teachers to collect evidence of student learning (or lack of student learning) digitally or otherwise, but many of them do the same thing.

Our pedagogy has changed considerably in the last decade or so and the shift is toward empowering students in their own learning as opposed to their regurgitation of facts. I argue then, that if pedagogy has changed, then assessment must also change from traditional grading methods, despite the best efforts of those who remain loyal to traditional school.  As teachers encourage students take ownership of their own learning, I believe there should be an element of honest student self assessment that supplements the evidence of learning collected by the teacher.

Maybe its the fact that it is Report Card and Student Led Conference week at my school, but I have had it up the here with assessment…

4 thoughts on “The impossible task”

  1. I agree with so many of your points in this blog post, Angus! I too have thought that with the shift in education towards students demonstrating their own learning, a shift in assessment also needs to occur. We are assessing a “new system” with old approaches and I often feel that the mandated assessments aren’t authentic and meaningful.

  2. Great post Angus!

    The curriculum is changing constantly, the expectation of teachers is always in flux and because of this how we “assess” is continually changing as well. There is an art to teaching, and every teachers has their own way of painting that picture. While I feel there should be an goal to meet, how we get there can be based upon the teacher and their professional opinion.

    1. Thanks. Sometimes I feel like I have become the guy who writes angry rhetoric in his blog, but I don’t want it to be that way. I just think that if we are using digital devices to assess learning done digitally, then we need to approach things with a different mind-set. We agree that teaching is an art so we need to remember that student learning is not a science!

  3. I always enjoy your posts, Angus. I feel your frustration with assessment. It seems like things are constantly changing and evolving, and yet at the end of the day we are still required to come up with “a mark”, even in courses like Work Experience. I am not sure what it will take for the mindset to change, but it seems long overdue.

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