George Lucas Educational Foundation

A Dialogue on Effective Assessment

A Dialogue on Effective Assessment

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Why can't we get a national, regional, or even state or local discussion of meaningful assessment of learning - initiated through reference to articles / commentaries such as this one from the NY Times? I for one believe strongly that there are many people who are doing effective assessment; I also believe that there are many articles / commentatires such as the one above that document very good examples of what good assessment looks like. I also believe strongly that the best solutions arise from open and broad discussion - always. But, no, ... What we get is prescriptive "solutions" to major problems [effective assessment in the present case] and large amounts of funds being spent to develop those solutions. So here's my offer: I'll be one of the people monitoring an assessment discussion list / blog - if that is what it takes to get one started. I'm not an assessment expert by any means; BUT I do care about how much my grandchildren are learning as I cared about how much my engineering students were learning while a full-time faculty member. We don't need experts always to tell us what to do; we do need interested people to discuss the topic with many other interested people - including the experts of course. Any one interested enough to start a discussion through Edutopia? Wouldn't it be great is people like Arne Duncan were part of the discussion?

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David Wees's picture
David Wees
Formative Assessment Specialist for New Visions for Public Schools

We can also use this forum to discuss effective assessment. It might also be good to construct a handbook of different types of assessment that people can peruse and examine and add to, perhaps a wiki?

Ryan Reed's picture
Ryan Reed
7/8th Grade Social Studies Teacher in Maine

A Wiki or Google doc might be a good start for getting a collaboration started. I like to think that the most effect assessments also teach students content and 21st-century skills as they take them.

Recently I gave my US History students a test, because I thought it would be appropriate to prepare them for taking tests in future Social Studies classes (something they will undoubtedly do). They had 10 key terms, and they had to choose 5 and identify who/what they were and why they were important. They also had to choose 2 essays and link historical facts to their opinion-based answers. I felt that if I was going to give a test, at least I would give one that includes big picture ideas and critical thinking skills.

To say they did terribly would be an understatement. Now, there were a variety of factors for this, including not having a test in my class before and having a number of snow days this year, but I believe that the extra opportunity to research and apply their knowledge from project-based learning pushes students' understanding over the edge.

David Wees's picture
David Wees
Formative Assessment Specialist for New Visions for Public Schools

I haven't seen anything out there which is a user-contributed wiki on assessment. It would be pretty interesting, I wonder if it is worth doing, if people would contribute. It certainly is fairly easy to set up.

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