Assessment is the process of making judgments about students' progress and attainment. As I argue in Out of Our Minds, an assessment has two components: a description and an assessment. If you say that someone can run a mile in four minutes or can speak French, these are neutral descriptions of what someone can do. [ 1 ] The difference is that assessments compare individual performances with others and rate them against particular criteria.
[ 2 ] The first is diagnostic, to help teachers understand students' aptitude and levels of development. The second is formative, to gather information on students' work and activities and to support their progress. The third is summative, which is about making judgments on overall performance at the end of a program of work.
One problem with the systems of assessment that use letters and grades is that they are usually light on description and heavy on comparison. Students are sometimes given grades without really knowing what they mean, and teachers sometimes give grades without being completely sure why. A second problem is that a single letter or number cannot convey the complexities of the process that it is meant to summarize. And some outcomes cannot be adequately expressed in this way at all. As the noted educator Elliot Eisner once put it, "[ 3 ]"
One way to enhance the value of assessment is to separate these elements of description and comparison. Student assessments can draw on many forms of evidence, including class participation, portfolios of work, written essays, and assignments in other media. Portfolios allow for detailed descriptions of the work that students have done with examples and reflective comments from themselves and others.
In peer group assessment, students contribute to the judgments of each other's work and to the criteria by which it is assessed. These approaches can be especially valuable in assessing creative work.
[ 4 ] The rise of testing has made that more difficult, but some teachers are pushing back in their own classrooms. There are challenges, but there can be enormous benefits too. For example, Joe Bower is a science and language arts teacher in Alberta, Canada, who, six years into his teaching career, decided that he could no longer abide by using grades as his primary form of assessment.
"I have come to see grades as schools' drug of choice, and we are all addicted…. [ 5 ]"
What Bower discovered was that the reliance on grading made him less effective as a teacher and had a negative effect on students. [ 6 ] While his school insisted that he give grades on report cards, he abolished all other grades in his classroom and delivered the report card grade only after asking his students to assess their own work and recommend the grade they should receive. [ 7 ] The result of doing away with grading was that he eased the pressure on his students and allowed them to focus on the content of their assignments and their classwork rather than on the rubric to score them.
"When we try to reduce something that is as magnificently messy as real learning, we always conceal far more than we ever reveal. Ultimately, grading gets assessment wrong because assessment is not a spreadsheet ― it is a conversation. I am a very active teacher who assesses students every day, but I threw out my grade book years ago. [ 9 ]"
ア．Assessment has several roles.
イ．Grades were originally tools used by teachers, but today teachers are tools used by grades.
ウ．He points out that when many students are asked what they got out of a class, they'll respond with something like, "I got an A."
エ．If we are to find our way and make learning, not grading, the primary focus of school, then we need to abandon our mania for reducing learning and people to numbers.
オ．If you say that she is the best athlete in the district or speaks French like a native, these are assessments.
エ．Not everything important is measurable and not everything measurable is important.
オ．So the teachers became determined to find a way to capture and document the learning they were actually witnessing.
ク．Some teachers have always used a range of assessment methods in class.
キ．The students' suggestions usually aligned with his, and there were far more cases where students would have recommended a lower grade than a higher one.