Blog


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


Standards Based Grading as a Game Changer

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall

Why should I make a change in my grading practices? What difference does it make moving to a standards based system from a traditional one? Given the current climate of education with initiative after initiative piling up, why is this endeavor worthy of my time and consideration? Read more


Powerful New Book Advocates Rethinking Grading Practices

This is a guest post by Kelly Rockhill, Solution Tree

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bloomington, Ind. (March 4, 2016)—Solution Tree, a premier educational publisher and professional development provider, has announced the release of Grading From the Inside Out: Bringing Accuracy to Student Assessment Through a Standards-Based Mindset. This new book by Tom Schimmer provides educators with active steps to positively change grading and reporting in their classrooms. Read more


Simplifying Common Assessments

Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to work with collaborative teams at meetings where they are discussing the results of their common formative assessments and planning how they will respond to the information from them. In some of these situations, I’ve been asked to work with teams who are frustrated by a process that they see as being overly cumbersome and complex, as well as not very helpful in their work. Read more


Engaging in Instructional Agility by Trusting Ourselves

The other day, I was sitting with a colleague after we had facilitated a reading intervention lesson with four grade six students. It had been a lively hour, with the students finding it difficult to engage in writing about reading after we had spent time reinforcing comprehension. They needed to be reminded often to focus on the task and apply their understanding of the text in written form.  We discussed these challenges and proposed reasons why the students were finding the work difficult. Read more


Diving Into Common Assessment

Are you ready to take the plunge? Is the water too cold or too warm?  Do you take a tentative step with the big toe or throw caution to the wind and commit to an adventurous leap – uncertain of the outcome? Either works, depending on your style, whether in swimming, living, or building common assessments. Read more


Comments: 1

Most Recent? Most Frequent? Most Accurate?

One of the fundamental tenets of standards-based grading is that greater (if not exclusive) emphasis is placed on the more recent evidence of learning. For years now, the consensus among both experts and practitioners is that the combination of old and new evidence (most often via calculating a mean average) distorts the accuracy of reported achievement levels (O’Connor, 2011; Guskey, 2015; Reeves, 2015). As students move through their natural learning trajectories, they should be given full credit for their learning, regardless of how low or slow the start. Read more


Designing Assessment through the Lens of Engagement

It is not often that teachers consider engaging student work when designing assessments. The technical aspect of identifying standards or learning goals and matching them to items and tasks is certainly an important aspect of design, but it cannot be the only thing. There are times when educators talk of engaging instruction and design lessons and activities that captivate students. Read more


Achievement—It’s More Than a Number

Post 1 of 4 on Using Assessment to Improve Achievement

A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.
Einstein

The primary mission of schools is to help kids learn. That’s it. That’s the bottom line. It stands to reason, then, that the primary indicator of success will always be achievement scores. But our work with making decisions about learners must remain far more humane then making decisions about learners based on a set of cold, calculated scores (and it doesn’t matter if those data come from the grades in our gradebooks or external test scores). The measure of achievement should never mask the face of the learner. This is personal. And, it’s very serious work. Read more


Comments: 6

Why Assess?

The question of “Why Assess?” is one that is posed in schools and districts everywhere. It’s important to challenge educators to think about their assessment practice and how they derive information about student progress. If the purpose of assessment is merely to rank and sort, then little needs to change from the assessment practices of previous generations. If, instead, the purpose is to focus on student learning, then educators need to examine whether their current practice is aligned with that outcome. Read more