As I wrap another year, some self-assessment is required.
It is apparent to me once again that many students still view the whole assessment process a mystery, yet it should not be so.
I am writing primarily about my English classes, but this applies in Social Studies as well.
We set criteria, we create rubrics, we examine exmplars, I provide ongoing feedback. Clearly, I still am not doing something critical to the process.
Many students still consider education, ‘doneness’, as in, “Have I done enough to pass, or get a B, or get an A”? When this is the case, the assessment is probably as useful and worthwhile as if I had just piled it up measured it with a ruler.
But I don’t use that method. I spend untold hours in careful assessment. Well, let’s be clear; I do count the hours, and they are more than I can physically and mentally bear, particularly when they feel, in least in some ways, a waste of time.
I love assessment. I love teaching skills, content, and inquiry. I enjoy reading student projects and writing and providing feedback. What I find agonizing is how often my feedback goes unimplemented, and how infrequently students do a good job on self-assessment. I ask for it, frequently. The students don’t know how to do it, or don’t do it, or don’t value it. They must, and the quality of that process will be part of the portfolio assessment they will do themselves.
Of course, I have to value it, and teach it, and assess it.
I am going to change some assessment routines, in particular, end of semester routines.
Next year, I will be implementing a portfolio approach to summative assessment, and it will directed and guided by the students. I will drop whatever elements of my courses I can in order to achieve this, because it will need to be completed well before the end of the semester.
Students should be very clear and able to determine the quality of the work they have completed and what they need to work on next time – as long as I do not accept personal responsibility for doing the summative assessment.
No mystery. The power of assessment will be where it belongs – in the student’s control and understanding. They shouldn’t have to drop by later to “see what I got”.
For English, in particular, I plan to put together a portfolio on large card stock. There will be three categories, Reading, Writing, and Oral Language. Students will collect artifacts representing their best learning in each category throughout the semester or year. They will reflect on product and process in both a written form and in an oral interview.
Anybody have anything like this? Advice? Routines?