Tuesday, April 24, 2012

9 Ways to Assess Without Standardized Tests

ExamHere is a great article from the Tech and Learning’s T&L Advisor Blog:

9 Ways to Assess without Standardized Tests

Here’s a great quote from the article:

“How do we assess learning in real life?” …Think about it, learning is rarely measured via a test in real life. … The reality is that for most of us, success in life has little to do with how well we can fill in bubbles.

If only our legislators understood that simple fact…

Below are ways the article’s author suggest that we as educators can assess student learning while fostering creativity and expression at the same time.

  • Look at Student Work – There is a simple protocol for looking at student work that will help teachers gauge their effectiveness at meeting standards. Anyone who has been through formal ICE-21 Mentor training knows it. It works.
  • Games – Have students create games – board games, computer games, simulations, etc. – to show their learning. Takes that tired old artsy-craftsy project to the next level, stimulating student creativity and encouraging kids to find ways to have fun with otherwise-boring assessment tasks. It makes kids look at things from different points of view – just writing “the rules” requires lots of higher-order thinking skills.
  • Challenges, Real World Work, Real World Projects, and Real World Accomplishments – Do these really require explanation? Find a real-life “authentic” way to challenge kids to apply their knowledge to something that real people really do every day – for real. It makes learning meaningful. If you can’t find a way to apply your lesson to the way normal people conduct themselves on a daily basis, why are you teaching it in the first place?
  • Badges and Points – Face it – We can all learn a lesson or two from the multi-billion-dollar video game industry. Kids sometimes need both short-term and long-term reinforcement to continue putting forth effort. Earning “points” toward “badges” (like merit badges, etc.) can sometimes be enough for kids. Hey, it worked at Hogwarts… Just make the process of earning your points a little less random and a lot more clear to kids in your classroom at the start of the school year.
  • Personal Success Plans – Kids are unique, and every one of them is capable of growth. Work with them – and the parents, guardians, etc. – to develop and understanding of where each kid starts in your class, where they need to go, and develop a reasonable and achievable path to get there.
  • ePortfolios – This concept has been around for a long time, but some Districts are just now developing the capacity to pull it off. Use commonly available tools to record milestones in students educational experience electronically to demonstrate growth and document achievements.

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