I’ve been learning about assessment, both formative and summative, for many years now. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend different conferences featuring my assessment gurus, John Hattie, Dylan Wiliams, Ken O’Connor and Myron Dueck. I am constantly online reading posts by Alfie Kohn, Starr Sackstein, Thomas Guskey, and Jennifer Gonzalez.
I post daily learning targets, my assessments are organised by targets/standards and I use performance standards for all of my assessments. I don’t give zeros, I allow rewrites, I embrace any demonstration of thinking and learning and learning from mistakes.
I still find myself thinking about summative assessment, its importance and whether I am doing the right thing. I don’t want learning to be limited by test taking. I resent the time it takes away from learning. I hear teachers worrying about end of year comprehensive exams being replaced by alternative ways of student demonstrations of learning. They sound threatened by anything that is not their 2-3 hour comp. exam, as if they can’t justify the semester or their job without this traditional trial by fire.
I wonder how can you not know what your students understand if you are assessing formatively on an ongoing basis? Why do you require an end of term comprehensive exam to maintain rigor?
I keep trying new things. Last week I had students complete a model of succession as a group rather than individually and we did it outside using chalk rather than on paper. I could walk around and hear their thinking and ask questions to clarify their thinking.
And while I don’t usually assign text questions, this time I assigned review questions to one class individually and to another class as a collaborative endeavour. The former required lots of walking around trying to get kids to stay on task while the latter involved lots of listening to kids thinking and questioning. It was so refreshing and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of this before.
Finally, a different way to summatively assess: choice.
4 choices in fact…students could create a learning summary or a letter to the editor or an infographic or take the traditional test.
After class one student asked, “Can we do the same thing next time?” #assessment