Singing the testing blues

It’s the end of the semester and comprehensive exams are being written. While I understand the value (somewhat) of multiple choice/selected response tests to check breadth of understanding of content (in science), I worry about the high stakes testing environment. I long to change but feel trapped by the culture of “rigor”. Often conversations with colleagues revolve around what happens in university and that we are training/preparing students for the challenges they will face there.  I want my students to be motivated by learning, not by grades. Am I failing my students by not testing more often? I think about this all the time.

I have researched different ways to assess learning, both formative and summative. I am always looking for performance tasks where students can learn by doing rather than by rote. I am planning to use portfolios next semester as another way for students to show me what they know and I am excited (read nervous) to see how this goes. So,  I was pleased to see an article in the Sun written by the president of the University of British Columbia entitled “UBC looks beyond high school grades to determine if students are ready for admission.”  Professor Toope writes that ” students need more than testing skills to succeed.” Students applying will  have to complete a Personal Profile that asks questions that will help each student ” shine a light” on who they are. “Going beyond the grades means students can step forth as a whole person…and they’re more likely to thrive and succeed.”

I am clinging to this article like a life raft in a sea of contradictions. I will continue to seek support for my practice. I want to do what is best for kids.

 

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