Rethinking Assessment Published 2007-08-23 under ,

As a blog reader, you don't need to be told that some of the best information comes from the discussions (comments) that follow a blog post. I read with interest Anne Davis' post on her new blogging project. But it was a particular comment (by Dean Shareski) that really caught my eye. It describe how a science class adapted a Darren Kuropatwa type class blog (link to blog). The comment also provided a link to a video where students discuss how this alternative form of assessment has impressed them.

The video frames the conversation about "Assessment for Learning" with comments by students on how they were affected by this form of assessment. Coincidently (or not), the video's focus on students and their opinions mirrors objectives embraced by "Assessment for Learning" models. Students reflect on their next steps to be successful and gather evidence to show their learning. The role of the teacher is to provide clear expected outcomes and offer ideas on how students can demonstrate their success.

High stakes summative assessment (assessment of learning) is getting a great deal of attention in schools (and the press). We are consumed with the need to enable our students to be successful on these (standardized) exams. As an AP teacher, I spent all of April reviewing past tests, drilling my students on a daily basis. This practice had positive results and I would not argue that we don't owe our students the tools to do well on these tests.

My argument is that we need to form a balance between assessment of learning and assessment for learning giving more emphasis (time) to the latter. A friend of mine's sister is charged with "coaching" students who fall below a certain grade. Certainly, this program is a positive step toward the true nature of "no child left behind". But the school tabulates summative assessment scores on a weekly basis begging the question "with all of this assessment of learning, where is the time for assessment for learning?"

As we progress as educators, rethinking assessment will be of paramount importance with traditional models being replaced by models that put the student in charge of demonstrating or providing evidence of his/her learning. Certainly, ePortfolios will play a important role in assessment.

As a side note, does anyone know the difference between Assessment for Learning and formative learning?


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Dean Shareski said...

We've been working very hard at changing the way we look at assessment. It's exciting to see some of the principles being lived out in classrooms.

Patty O'Flynn said...
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Patty O'Flynn said...

Our school has worked with Assessment FOR Learning principles for a few years. For those that want training, I highly recommend the ETS Assessment Training Institute (

rob banning said...

Thanks for the info on the Assessment Training Institute. I must admit that I never think of ETS as a provider of alternative assessment. Perhaps this is really great news especially if they are providing a good service.