What is the best way to assess learning?
Gosh that is a huge question that I think most political people have been scratching their heads about for years. Now we have lots of standardize testing to best "assess learning." Primarily standardize testing has been in the American education system since 2002. No matter how you feel on the issue, you should see both sides.
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Pro: Standardize testing is a way to level the playing field for school, classrooms and students. You can take test scores from one city school and equally compare it to a rural school and expect to get accurate correlations. You can look at one classrooms' scores to another classroom and see if one teacher is teaching the content better for the grade of students. You could also look at different demographics within schools or classroom and compare student to student test scores. Standardize testing is incredible in the fact that comparison is now possible with data.
Cons: Standardize testing is now guiding everything that is taught and done in a school. With strong test scores as the only goal in a school system, the curriculum is only what is testing material. This could only creates a new and different tension in the classroom that affects the students stress levels and creates anxious students at a young age striving for perfection in elementary school and on. Standardize testing also curves off the value of the arts and creativity. Not that is was a target effect of testing, it just happened because how can one standardize creativity, how do you test art accomplishments?
So now how do you feel on assessing learning? For me the jury is still out. I think in some ways standardize test is good for core subjects. But in different circumstances there are alternatives to assess learning in the classroom based on content.
Another way to check learning is through a rubric for projects within or out of the core subjects. A rubric is a document that articulates the expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria, or what counts, and describing levels of quality from excellent to poor. This uses a formulation for the students grade. If the project earns certain points on some of the criteria, them the summation of the total points earned will be the student's grade.
Here is a blank example rubric:
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It helps the students to realize what effort will earn the grade they are striving for. A rubric allows the students to plan how to do the project to get the maximum points, check as they are in progress working as well as persistence to check before turning in the assignment what is expected and how many points the student(s) is expecting to receive. From the student stand point, since I am still in school, rubrics are one of my favorite assignments to receive. I feel like the communication between the teacher and student is amplified with a rubric with the added plus of checking while in progress. Overall I definitely feel like a rubric assignment is easier on the student.
A rubric helps teacher with grading by giving them a formula to create the final grade. It takes the issue of deciding what has what value and take out some bias. A rubric give ease to the teacher grading the project.
Basically its a win win for student and teacher.