Mr. D on Assessment

Here we are at the end of the semester, and once again I am struggling with what the numbers might have to say – about my students, about me as a teacher, about what was learned, and not learned. Apparently, Mr. D has no such concerns!

This blog post, Rethinking Letter Grades, by Darcy Mullin reflects what I really feel, so please do follow this link.

I would much prefer descriptive feedback, especially without having to attach a final, specific number. I think this is the real revolution/education reform we need. I think we would be shocked at the incredible changes removing letter/percentage grades would create.

This kind of assessment takes time. Last semester, when I taught English 10, I spent 14 hours one weekend doing a portfolio assessment at the end of a Romeo and Juliet unit. That was thirty students.

Ultimately, however, the students should assess themselves in conference with me. When we work together to create the assessments, and students get ongoing feedback as they work, the students should know exactly what they learned, what they could have changed, what they need to work on in the future. Sounds like the kind of 21st Century learning we are all talking so much about.

This culture shift will be not be easy; not for teachers, not for parents, certainly not for students. We have been working toward this kind of change in our English department. It’s been well worth it. In the end, we are still stuck with the final number. Why.

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