This is another spin-off from Making Meaning, a forum started by Julie Osteen.

Sylvia Martinez talks about assessment:

"Assessment is the way that someone judged what someone else does. Tests are only one way, and a fairly narrow way. A test slams a door closed on the subject matter, when what we want to do is open doors of opportunity. Authentic assessment is a two way street, where the assessment is happening in real time, in a way that informs the student so they can correct their mistakes or misconceptions, and continue their work. In a sense, it's just talking, asking questions, and guiding. The goal of authentic assessment is that everyone succeeds - and the assessment is part of that success. Think of that - all children succeed! Instead of a bell curve where half are expected to 'fall below norm'.

Sometimes people call it formative assessment, but that word seems to have been stolen by test prep companies who apply it (wrongly) to standardized tests done multiple times.

Computers could be a huge part of this, not because they make assessment more efficient, but because they expand the options of what a child can do to create knowledge. I really disagree with the current focus on 'information' because this also diminishes the role of 'doing'. The information you can now more easily find is nothing until you let the student DO something meaningful with it.

One of the 'oldsters' who I left out was Seymour Papert, who has a TON more to say on this subject. When you read his work from the 80's, it might well have been written yesterday...

'The role that the computer can play most strongly has little to do with information. It is to give children a greater sense of empowerment, of being able to do more than they could do before. But too often, I see the computer being used to lead the child step by step through the learning process. Ivan Illich said the most important thing you learn at school is that learning only happens by being taught. This is the opposite of empowerment. What you ought to be learning at school is that you don't need to be taught in order to learn. This is not to say that the teacher is not an important part of the learning process. That teacher is, of course, the most important person there. But recognizing the importance of the teacher is very different from reducing learning to the passive side of being taught. This is the fundamental cleavage between theories of education: empowerment of the individual versus instruction and being taught.'" (discussion segment from Sylvia)

Anone want to continue along with some reactions to that?

Tags: assessment, learning, meaning, pedagogy, purpose

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a new thought here: for me talking about assessment has never really seemed right at all (ugh, don't like it - I don't like being "assessed" and I don't like assessing others...) -

but I love FEEDBACK. I love talking about feedback, theorizing about forms of feedback, getting feedback, giving feedback.

in educational environments, assessment seems to me one of the worst forms of feedback...

but what would happen to discussions about assessment (which is really a euphemism for grading, right?) and just talked about feedback instead... how to provide the most/best feedback?

the possibilities for feedback in digital environments are so many and so varied - rating, tagging, linking, favoriting, quoting, replying, etc.... plus automated feedback (computer-graded)... feedback over time... so much to think about! and so much more intriguing than the traditional rubrics of educational assessment (the tedious alphabet traps of ABCDF and GPA)

:-)
You are right--feedback has a whole different ring to it!
Sylvia, this is the discussion that connects to the other Making Meaning! Isn't it cool to see all this thinking? Wouldn't it be fun to get together in the same (real) room, sit by a fire, have a glass of tea or wine, and chat?!
I'm participating in an intensive Harvard Summer Institute program called Project Zero right now. Today, I'll be showing my study group all of your comments here on assessment (and CR2.0 in general). I wish you were all here, and we could together be doing the exercises on how to assess students' work in the deepest, most supportive, growth-producing manners.
Yesterday at Project Zero we were suggesting analogies for types of assessment. A classmate suggested asking her children what assessment is all about. I asked her what she thought the kids might say, and she playfully came back with, "Well, I could see a student saying it's like cooking: you taste how your cooking turned out and get suggestions for seasoning." How's that for the "feedback" idea? (!) It's great to be able to think of assessment from a whole new framework, out and away from all the useless and counterproductive views that often end up interfering with learning. I am starting to believe that we may now be entering a more enlightened phase of education. Let's keep our fingers crossed, and work hard to bring on this new age, together.
Connie, this is so exciting!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been hearing about Project Zero all my life (kind of in my peripheral education vision I guess you could say) and I know they do awesome stuff. what a great thing to get to do before school starts up again this fall. enjoy enjoy enjoy!!!!
Hi Connie,
That's cool - in the GenYES curriculum, we use the EXACT same analogy for students to understand how to document their projects (the projects are to help other teachers create lessons for the classroom using technology.)

In addition, you can't really judge a recipe until you make it - it's an authentic task. You can't write a report about a recipe, you can't decorate a recipe, it only makes sense if you actually get your hands dirty ;-)

The recipe concept is a good one, and since you can go back and rewrite your recipe after you do the tasting it even extends further. In the teacher's guide we relate this to formative and summative assessment. But really, recipe/cooking/tasting is great example that everyone can get a handle on.

Hi to all the Project Zero-ites! We should have a Skype chat or something!
I agree with your statements about formative assessments...it is true that the term is overused in relation to standardized tests, practice test, benchmark tests and on and on. However, in my role as a professional development coordinator, I try to help teachers make meaningful use of the assessments that they feel are meaningless and that they feel so victimized by. If teachers can deconstruct a standardized test with an eye on literacy and thinking skills...they will begin to notice which of those skills are embedded in the assessment more often. We encourage them to build authentic tasks around those skills.....and in this way, they are preparing for the assessment without stripping their curriculum down to low-level tasks that make kids and teachers want to run for the door. We've gone a long way toward helping teachers realize that preparing kids for state assessments has little to do with firing "formative assessments" at them that look just like the state test. This is a great topic for discussion!
I just had to repost this thread, after hearing Alfie Kohn talk in Ann Arbor today. Everything people have said here, and Alfie Kohn's references as well, show that deep-thinking educators can find a new way of going about things. We don't need to stay in the "dark phase," things are opening up! It's all about going for real meaning, understanding, and engagement in learning.
Late to the party on assessment but I saw the neatest thing. I teach gifted kids and differentiation is a group of strategies use to meet the needs of all kids in the classroom. One of the most important components of differentiation is assessment since kids move through "groups" all the time based on ability, readiness, interest, learning profile, etc. Anyway, several years ago I saw a video of a middle school teacher who was modeling differentiation in his classroom. Five minutes before the period was over he handed our index cards---he told the kids to explain the day's lesson on the note card. (Example: explain the water cycle)

A quick glance of the cards told the teacher who got it and who needed more work--he was ready for the next day's differentiation. Thought that was such a neat idea.
Connie,

Thanks for bumping this up! Just what I needed to hear and will be teaching some quick workshops on assessment. I love the analogy of "cooking" and tasting......Wow, kids say the darndest things.

Lots I could say but it has all been said so well here. I think that assessment goes downhill when it begins to be competitive and comparative and is not linked to helping learning. I like the Testing for learning article I've attached. I also like to mention that educators should be the last to make a test! Students in my opinion, should be those designing tests (just like they should be cooking! and tasting!). This video of a colleague of mine in Korea, says it well. I'll put it up on the main page here for viewing or also take a look here on my site.

Thanks again.

David
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