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Assessment and Emotion

There is something about assessment that provokes strong emotion. You bring up the topic in a room full of teachers and you can feel the energy in the room shift. Similarly, the moment you pull a pile of assessments out of your desk and prepare to return them, students will adjust their posture and conversations halt in readiness for the event. Read more



Diving Into Common Assessment—Does it Work?

Assessment is a messy process. Developing, using and responding to assessment supporting learning requires reflection, trusting relationships and, at times, re-learning and re-assessing. When assessment is simply seen as a test, resulting in points scored and grades assigning, the fundamental learning opportunities of effective assessment practices are lost; and what a tragedy this is. Read more


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When is Assessment Formative?

Formative Assessment is one of the strategies most often talked about by educators in schools today. Type those two words into a Google search and hundreds of thousands of items are identified. Yet the practice is still confusing and unevenly applied within districts, schools, departments, and classrooms. Read more


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A first look at Standards-Based Learning

I have the honor of teaching at a laboratory school and working with many pre-service teachers as they move through their teacher training programs. The mission of our school is to act as a model for educational methods and theory in support of the preparation of future educators. Many of the pre-service teachers that come through my classroom, as well as many of us, went through school with very traditional assessment practices and a traditional mindset when it comes to education, assessment, and grading. Read more


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Do Your Grading Rules Frustrate Achievement?

One of my favorite books is Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. For those who haven’t read it, Gladwell writes of the untold stories of success. Rather than telling the stereotypical story of super intelligence or unabashed ambition, Gladwell argues that the true story of success can found by spending more time looking around those who have succeeded; their family circumstances, where they were born, and even their birth date.   Read more


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Perfection Isn’t the Objective; Clarity Is!

Accurate assessment design can effectively leverage our ability to deeply understand a student’s next steps in their learning. As we gather evidence about what students know and can do, we can utilize that information to better determine what a student does know as well as which areas are still difficult for them to master. Yet talking about and planning for assessment design can be a challenging endeavor, especially when this kind of work was never part of our schooling or training. Read more


Assessment in Action: Lessons from Learning to Snowmobile

It was a warm winter day. Snow was falling and my 8-year old was ready to ride the youth snowmobile. I was determined that he was going to learn to do this. While Chase loves to “drive,” he is more concerned with everything around him than the road right in front of him. He watched his older brother jump on and thought that he should be able to ride as fast as he does. Read more


Achievement – High Expectations for All

Post 2 of 4 on Using Assessment to Improve Achievement

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them
Einstein

As noted in my first post of this series regarding using assessment to support achievement, the primary mission of schools is to help kids learn. Schools write mission statements toward that same end:  all students will be successful. But, have those mission statements become routine and somewhat cliché?   Read more


Productive Failure

One of the most challenging sales job that we as educators may ever have to make is related to the idea of productive failure.  Productive failure is included in our tenets of effective assessment practices as a component of a learning rich culture along with risk taking and celebrating success.  Failure seems to be hard-wired into our brains as a negative and something to be avoided at all costs.  Our job as educators is to recognize this perception and work to correct it. Read more