December 2007/January 2008
| Volume 65 | Number 4
How can assessment be truly informative? How can students show their teachers what they know, and how can teachers use that information to create experiences that help students meet learning goals? The December 2007/January 2008 issue of Educational Leadership offers ideas for making sure that all assessment activities enhance learning.
One Teacher's Story
In "Learning to Love Assessment," Carol Ann Tomlinson describes her personal journey as an educator and how her beliefs about the role of assessment have changed during her career.
- How has your attitude toward assessment changed since you began your career? If you're a beginning teacher, how has your perspective changed since you were a student?
- Tomlinson shares 10 understandings about assessment that have influenced her work. Which of these do you consider most significant, and how might it shape your classroom practice? What understandings might you add to the list?
- According to Tomlinson, some types of assessments are inappropriate for certain students. What are some of the most effective ways you've found to help students show you what they know? How do you juggle different students' learning and communication styles when designing assessments?
What's Really Important?
In "Assessing What Matters," Robert J. Sternberg asserts that assessments should go beyond academics to assess wisdom and creativity.
- Sternberg says that we should assess students in "what it takes to be 'expert' citizens" (p. 21). What do you believe constitutes an "expert" citizen? How can teachers help students build the necessary skills for life?
- Do you currently assess wisdom and creativity? If not, how might you go about incorporating those skills into your assessments? Is this something teachers should be doing?
- On pages 22–23, Sternberg provides examples of questions teachers might ask to assess students' analytical, creative, and practical understanding, as well as their wisdom. Think of a unit you're currently working on, and come up with a question or two to assess each area of understanding. How can you prepare students to answer these types of questions?
- In today's diverse society, people might have differing opinions on what constitutes true wisdom. What challenges could this create for teachers who want to promote wisdom among their students? How can teachers show respect for different ideas while encouraging students to grow in wisdom?
The Role of Rubrics
In "The View from Somewhere," Maja Wilson discusses the problems of using rubrics to assess student writing. Heidi Andrade, on the other hand, says in "Self Assessment Through Rubrics" that rubrics can be valuable tools for student self-assessment.
- How have you used rubrics in your classroom? Have you found them to be useful? What do you see as the benefits and drawback of using rubrics?
- What role do students have in developing and using rubrics? Have you ever had students use rubrics for self-assessment, as Andrade recommends? If so, describe your efforts and how students responded. If not, discuss how well you believe this method would work with your students.
- Wilson (p. 78) tells the story of a group of teachers who give the highest score possible to a paper that one teacher believes is vacuous and deserves a lower score. Do you believe that this is a valid criticism of rubrics? Could a better-designed rubric solve this problem, or is Wilson correct that the type of objectivity that rubrics impose on writing assessment is inappropriate?
- Susan Brookhart, in "Feedback That Fits," offers an example of flawed feedback on a writing assignment (pp. 57–58). How might a rubric help this teacher provide more useful feedback? How might a rubric prevent a teacher from providing the helpful sort of feedback in the figure on page 58?
Copyright © 2007 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development