Assessment Myths

I was fortunate enough to see Rick Stiggins present last week on Formative Assessments. For an evening workshop which lasted only two hours - he really packed a lot in. It was nice to have some confirmation of my own feelings about assessment - and to get some nuggets to chew on.

I'm excited too that he is planning and Education Week piece on Assessment Myths and their dire consequences. But we keep bemoaning the consequences and never doing anything about them. Here are the myths - and then my musings....

1. Standardized testing has improved schools. Well - we've seen some improvement in schooling but in schools? Is this the only way to improve schools? What about culture? Climate?

2. Our nation knows how to use tests to improve schools. See above!

3. Teachers and leaders are trained to use assessment to improve schools. We know this isn't true - yet have you seen any institutions doing anything about it? Where are the assessment courses in our pre-service education schedules? In graduate courses? In educational leadership courses? Heck - come to think of it, I can barely get a one day workshop on it to fly!

4. Assessment equals multiple choice test. Now - there is nothing wrong with having some carefully constructed, reliable and valid MC items on a test. Trick is - what teacher really knows how to write them? Publishers sure don't!! And do we really know why we are assessing something in the first place? Are we using the right measure to assess what it is we want to know?

5. Assessment for intimidation improves student learning. I argue that this same "assessment for intimidation" runs rampant throughout the system. Teachers - are you afraid those scores will be used against you? Principals? Superintendents? Real Estate brokers?

6. The most important data-based decisions are made by the adults in the system. I think the adults have a responsibility to look at data and then use that to help the kids see what they need to do to improve. Does simply knowing that you have a 73% in a class tell you what you need to do to improve? Nope! So why do we horde this data and not share with our students?

As you see - I was pretty fired up and energized by his presentation! I can't wait for the article!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing - hopefully we can post the article when it comes out! The concept of high quality formative assessment design is really intriguing to me. I've become fascinated with the concept of reliability and validity as it relates to teacher created tests and I think you have a really good point - publishers don't always write high quality assessments. The link below leads to an article that provides a very solid overview of the two concepts for a classroom teacher. The second half of the article deviates into how these concepts should be taught in higher education but the literature review is very informative.