Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Assessment again!

I've been bumping around my RSS feeds and reading some of the great blog posts out there and I stubbed my toe on two valuable posts.

First on Kelly Hines blog: Or is it about the technology? Deven Black made a very cogent comment about the inappropriateness of our current testing regime. Or maybe it's really about the ineffectiveness of the current testing regime, but it all boils down peanuts.

Another post pointed out the very real, and accurate points a 15 year old has about the troubling nature of trying to prevent kids from failing. I just can't believe that artificially inflating their grades and ego is helpful. Shouldn't they do good useful things and then they get to feel good about themselves? (Yes, I know I am quoting the old Bill Gates chain email but hey the sentiment was right)

My response to the post was:
Hey, Sorry, I am with the 15 year old on this one. This make almost no sense. Especially considering a 50% is still a failing grade. Is this move just to stroke the ego of the kids? I structured my classes and grading such that any kid who made a modest effort could pass. Legitimately without someone artificially forcing a minimum grade. Did I have kids fail. Yes, Miserably but it was due to their absolute refusal to put in any effort. We need to get away from grading kids. A term which means we are literally ‘grading’ them. Putting them into categories based on subjective value we place on their abilities. It would be so nice to actually evaluate their competencies, including their willingness and motivation to, as your 15 year old friend points out, how much they try to learn!
I just find it aggravating that we throw our efforts into testing, measuring, evaluating, and planning instead of just helping the struggling kids who want to succed find the areas they can succeed in. We spend so much time trying to motivate the unmotivated that the highly motivated are left to navigate the oceans of learning on their own.

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