Our goal is to educate students who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged and who are ready for the demands of college, career, and citizenship. Through a combination of assessments of and for learning, such as growth models; portfolios; criterion-referenced tests; norm-referenced tests; computer adaptive assessments; diagnostic evaluations; and formative, interim, and summative assessments; we get a more comprehensive and continuous picture of student achievement and long-term success.
Despite the rumors, school improvement is hard. It's not about a single passionate leader. It's not about "fixing" teachers and teaching or parents and parenting. It's not about poverty. It's not about money. And it's not about standards. It's about all of them. And more.
In this column, I'll take on the real deal of school improvement—for all schools, not just certain kinds. And for all kids. Because it's not about quick fixes or checking off the instant strategy of the moment. It's about saying, "Yes, and...", not "Yes, but..." no matter what our circumstances are. It's about asking ourselves the best questions.
I've been working within ASCD's Whole Child Initiative for five years or so, and on issues related to a whole child approach to education for nearly 20 years. In that time, I've heard all the comments about whole child education being antiassessment and antirigor, and I usually counter with the dangers of academic pity that a whole child approach takes on, the challenged tenet, or (if I'm feeling particularly snarky) a Dr. Phil shout-out along the lines of, "how's that almighty test focus working for you so far?"
The true measure of students' proficiency and readiness for college, career, and citizenship has to be based on more than just their scores on any state standardized reading and math assessments. It has to be based on valid, reliable, multiple sources of information. In 2002, the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act (the revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) required more tests and it raised the stakes of those tests by meting out sanctions if students failed to reach each state's minimum levels of improvement. The emphasis of the law really was on documenting proficiency, and unfortunately that did not necessarily translate into improving assessment overall. When ESEA is reauthorized in the coming years, testing is likely to remain a key part of the law.
In our Assessment 101 show, we looked at the meaning and purpose of assessment, the different types, and how they are used to monitor student progress, provide timely feedback (or not), adjust teaching-learning activities, and contribute to student achievement overall. In this episode, we discuss the future of assessment and how the current accountability model must evolve from one that is punitive, prescriptive, and often overly bureaucratic to one that is truly learning-driven, informative, promotes supportive learning communities and cultures of continual improvement, and rewards achievement. You'll hear from
Susan Brookhart, an ASCD Faculty member, author, and senior research associate in the School of Education at Duquesne University. Brookhart has spent the last 20 years studying and writing about classroom assessment and specializes in combining research-based strategies and practical applications, working with classroom teachers and administrators to customize strategies for their schools.
Deborah Gist, the Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education and member of the governing board of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, a consortium of states working together to develop a common set of K–12 assessments in English and math anchored in college- and career-readiness. Gist began her career as an elementary school teacher in Texas and has also served as a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Education.
David Griffith, the director of public policy at ASCD who leads the development and implementation of ASCD's legislative agenda as well as ASCD's efforts to influence educational decision making at the local, state, and federal levels. He has 20 years of political experience as a congressional aide and on several political campaigns. Prior to joining ASCD, Griffith was the director of governmental and public affairs for the National Association of State Boards of Education, where he oversaw the organization's advocacy and political activities as well as media relations.
Post submitted by Larry Lewin and Betty Shoemaker, authors of Great Performances: Creating Classroom-Based Assessment Tasks, 2nd ed., where they tackle the sparkles and blemishes of performance assessments. With expertise in performance-based assessment, differentiated instruction, literacy, integrated thematic curriculum, and teaching comprehension with student-based questioning, they are influencing decision makers about both the importance and quality of great classroom-based assessments instead of high stakes standardized tests. Connect with Lewin by e-mail at email@example.com and Shoemaker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked."
—John Dewey, Democracy And Education (1916)
We have some great news! The second edition of our book, Great Performances: Creating Classroom-Based Assessment Tasks, has just been published. We would like to say that it is single-handedly bringing adequate yearly progress (AYP) to its knees. Well ... we can hope that it at least has influenced, and will continue to influence, decision makers about the importance of and quality of great classroom-based assessments as compared to high-stakes standardized tests.
In the past year, experts and practitioners in the field, whole child partners, and ASCD staff have shared their stories, ideas, and resources to help you ensure that each child, in each community, is healthy, engaged, supported, and challenged and is college-, career-, and citizenship-ready. These are the top 10 posts you read in 2011.
Post written by Mark Barnes, a veteran teacher and national presenter. His new book on what he calls a Results Only Learning Environment will be published by ASCD in 2013. Connect with Barnes by e-mail at email@example.com. This post was originally featured in ASCD Express.
The argument about the value of grades is one that continually vexes many teachers and administrators. Once educators agree that grades do more harm than good, the debate typically turns to a discussion about what is an appropriate replacement for them. "Study after study has found that students—from elementary school to graduate school, and across cultures—demonstrate less interest in learning as a result of being graded" (Kohn, 1999). How, then, does assessment exist without numbers and letters?
When we ask students to do, perform, and produce, we must ensure that these tasks or assessments demand rigor and relevance. But let's be honest, sometimes these words are thrown around as buzz words in education or are difficult to truly internalize as teachers when we are design assessments. What does it look like to ask students to do rigorous work? What does an assessment that has relevance look like? I can make my own assumptions, but how do I know if my assumptions are truly asking for depth of rigor and relevance?
Assessing student knowledge, understanding, and skills is something that educators must master to teach properly. Test and quiz results help teachers assess, but they need to look at other factors to get a complete and accurate assessment. Educators must look at virtually every part of the learning process to understand the full picture of what their students are taking away from their learning experience.