Thursday, June 13, 2013

Will assessment ever catch up?

I was sitting at an in-service for ITSI-SU, a project that focuses on probeware in science classes.  All day, we have been speaking of critical thinking opportunities, including student data collection, analysis, interpretation, and reflection.  We have been doing this all year, as it was a yearlong commitment.

Now we've moved on and are talking about the new science standards and the value of content.  There's excitement, apprehension, and a realization that what we've been doing with this program fits right in.  


This is not a tool that leads itself to easy testing, and that's a worry.  While we have been utilizing claims, evidence, and reasoning, and there's reading and writing across the curriculum, it's messy.  How will that impact us, when others judge us based on student performance on bubble tests?

Here's a snapshot of some of the comments regarding traditional testing on current assessments, and the despair that may accompany it:

photo credit: roswellsgirl via photopin cc
"If I have three kids who aren't proficient, it throws off everything...."

"What if the cutoff score doesn't match from year to year?"

"What if I just have an off-year? When one student sabotages the test, does everyone have a consequence?"

"Can we trust 11 and 12 year olds to make a conscious decision to have a school have a good reputation or bad reputation?  You know, that affects property values."

"Are these tests being used in the way they are designed for, and what can we do?"  

Sometimes I just want to give up."

"Will the assessment ever catch up?"

That last question is one to pay attention to as we look at Smarter Balance and the Iowa Assessments for the future.  Because these ideas contained in the NGSS will NOT translate into easy multiple-choice tests.

The Next Generation Science Standards are written as performance expectations.  That is the minimum that all students need to be able to do.  And quite frankly, it's causing some concern.  How are you going to write a bubble test for something like THIS?

Others may speak about the value of snapshots of data, but I will continue to believe the testing questions above are proof positive that good people are being pushed away from education by a total disregard for what the purpose of education is all about.  Real assessment is complicated and requires synthesis of ideas.

It's NOT about property values. It's NOT about teacher-bashing. It's NOT about testing.

It's about wanting our kids to be lifelong learners.  It's about wanting to find joy in the journey.  It's about creating, innovating, and critically thinking for the future of a complicated world.

Who's listening?

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