Blogs on Assessment

Assessment

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Move past high-stakes testing and expand your understanding about the different types of effective assessment.

Anthony CodyMarch 26, 2008

Recently, consultants who were reviewing the data systems the California Department of Education uses to track student performance interviewed me. I have had to wrestle with how I feel about the whole process, because unfortunately, I think the emphasis on data has not been the boon to students and educators that was promised.

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Ben JohnsonMarch 18, 2008

If I were to ask you what the most valuable resource that teachers have at their disposal is, what would you answer?

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Chris O'NealFebruary 11, 2008

The requirements for highly qualified teachers that are part of the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as more stringent prerequisites surrounding teacher accreditation, have underscored discussions about teacher quality over the last several years. The Educational Testing Service has released a report about marked improvement in teacher quality over the past decade.

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Mark NicholDecember 3, 2007

One day, the mother of one of my fourth-grade students came in to meet with me about her son. She reported that Noah, who I knew to be extremely bright, was bored with math. Although my school district's textbooks included problem-solving activities and stories, and I augmented the curriculum with various exercises that required students to apply creativity and higher-order thinking skills, the assignments, she told me, were still too easy for him.

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Bob LenzNovember 28, 2007

When a colleague at another urban high school commented to me that because his students needed more structure, he no longer employs project-based learning, I replied that his decision presumes that PBL is unstructured.

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Bob LenzSeptember 18, 2007

This is a guest posting from my colleague, Kyle Hartung, who has worked in small schools for ten years as a classroom teacher and instructional leader in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. As part of the Leadership and Instructional Team at Envision Schools, he coaches and facilitates professional development among school leaders and teachers.

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Diane Demee-BenoitSeptember 12, 2007

Many people think of public charter schools as a way to increase student achievement and improve our public school system. However, many others believe charters divert resources from traditional public schools and don't meet up to accountability measures.

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Chris O'NealAugust 10, 2007

This is a guest posting from my friend and colleague, David Carpenter, who is working abroad as an instructional technologist in Asia. Read his other posts, "An Instructional Technologist Muses on Lessons Learned: The Peaks and Pitfalls of Discovery Learning" and "Travel Tip: It Is a Terrific Time to Teach Abroad."

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Ken MessersmithMay 21, 2007

The report "A New Day for Learning," recently released by the Time, Learning, and Afterschool Task Force, argues that we must redefine the school day if we are to improve student achievement in the United States. The authors of the report, funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, lay out five elements of their proposed new learning system.

The first element states that we must "redefine what student success means beyond the acquisition of basic skills, support the time it takes to experience success, and develop sophisticated ways to measure it."

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This three-pronged statement, centered on student success, begins with a call for a new definition for the phrase "student success." Philosophers have debated for centuries about what it is to be an educated person. I am not convinced we can agree on what it is to be successfully educated, but we must individually have some vision in mind if we are to be able to determine whether we have hit the mark.

Most Americans, I believe, would define student success as the ability of a student to support himself or herself in this society after completing the educational process. Our value and belief systems are strongly based on economics and accumulation of material wealth. How often do you hear parents say, "I don't want my children to have to come home to live with me after completing their education"?

It's difficult to argue with the fact that the ability to support oneself economically is a goal of the educational process, but it is not the only goal. If it were, we would not need schools; we could easily achieve success by matching students with professional mentors and letting them learn on the job.

What additional definitions could we use for student success? I would like to suggest a few, and I am interested in what you would add. Student success, I believe, means the ability to

  • understand the rights and responsibilities that allow us to function as contributing members of our democracy.
  • cooperate and collaborate with others in work, social, and family settings.
  • make independent decisions based on reasoning supported by facts gathered and analyzed by students.
  • relate in a positive and constructive manner with family members and other members of the world community.
  • take responsibility for one's own actions and act supportively and compassionately toward others.

Maybe, though, it would be easier to list things that should not be included in our definition of student success. It is not a sign of student success to

  • score highly on an arbitrarily chosen standardized test.
  • help beat a rival football, basketball, or wrestling team into submission.
  • have every student specialize in science, technology, engineering, or math in order to beat the Chinese in the economic realm.
  • efficiently perform repetitive tasks in a factory setting.

How do you define student success? The form of our future educational system is dependent on how we answer this question. Please offer your suggestions.

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