After reading this article today in the NYTIMES, it once again raised the issue of how we measure success.
Saskatchewan has been one of the last provinces in Canada to move towards standardize testing. We’re still not there yet but recent changes worry me. In an effort to become more accountable we are moving dangerously close to models were test scores determine funding and support.
My argument has been that these type of bureaucratic models will lead to the lowest common denominator of work which is low level thinking and testing in order to produce the required results. Good assessment takes time and thought. Good assessment is not simply assessment OF learning but assessment FOR learning. Data collection in these circumstances for this large number would not likely be able to handle thoughtful, messy assessment. (See Wes Fryer and Brian Crosby for more on messy assessment)
Personally, I’ll be coordinating a number of projects this year relating to the 21st century classroom. It will be largely experimental and self directed for the participants. I want to assess not only for its success (assessment OF learning) but more importantly to make learn from it (assessment FOR learning). I’m struggling with the right type of assessment and the right questions. Any suggestions would be welcomed.
One final thought. If you think of these districts like the NY Public school district or even Saskatchewan Learning and compare it to a classroom, how effective is assessment when you have a large class of 50? Not very in depth. That’s why I argue the validity of these test scores as true indicators of learning. It can’t possibly measure your students learning alone, why would we expect it to reflect the learning of a school? Also I hope that teachers don’t pull their support/funding when they see how poorly students have done. Shouldn’t we provide more support for schools that achieve less? Weird.
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