One of the greatest potentials for PBL is that it calls for authentic assessment. In a well-designed PBL project, the culminating product is presented publicly for a real audience. PBL is also standards-based pedagogy. Oftentimes when I consult and coach teachers in PBL, they ask about the assessment of standards. With the pressures of high stakes testing and traditional assessments, teachers and administrators need to make sure they accurately design projects that target the standards they need students to know and be able to do.
Summative assessments, or high stakes tests and projects, are what the eagle eye of our profession is fixated on right now, so teachers often find themselves in the tough position of racing, racing, racing through curriculum.
Edutopia's first Schools That Work installment about comprehensive assessment focuses on a New York City school that has changed the game of student assessment. Think: more rigorous, more relevant, more fun.
While that may not sound terribly sexy, don't be fooled. These techniques -- and what New York's Manhattan-based School of the Future has achieved with them -- have the potential to change the way we understand and learn from our successes and failures.
Editor's Note: Today's guest blogger is Shawn Cornally, author of the Standards-Based Grading. Here, he presents a blog carnival on redefining assessment. It's a complex issue, and one that we tackle in the next Schools that Work series here on Edutopia.
One of my favorite books in high school was John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley, his account of his road trip around the U. S., late in his career, accompanied only by his French poodle Charley. Not having traveled much as a boy beyond my home state of Illinois, into Wisconsin and Indiana, I was mesmerized by his stories of the vastness and diversity of our country.
Reading local newspapers about yearly school progress can certainly be discouraging. And as backwards as it may seem, each article makes me wonder if we are indeed setting the "bar" for success too low? Too low, you say, when students often do not make the minimum proficiency set by each state?
Many of us out there know that project-based learning (PBL) inspires students to understand core content knowledge more deeply and gain key skills for success in college and career. Many of us have also directly contributed to results for students on state tests, college-going, and college persistence metrics.
When a couple hundred educators, journalists, parents and researchers - including the L.A. Times reporter who worked on the controversial database of teacher ratings -- gathered at UC Berkeley on Monday to tackle the thorny issue of teacher evaluation, the biggest news was probably that the discussion remained - save a few cat-calls and much grumbling - mostly civil.
Burdened by expanding curriculum and multiplying high-stakes assessment requirements, some of my respected colleagues might be forgiven for not integrating student journals into their courses. The most common objection: "Who has time?"