9 Ways to Assess Students without Standardized Tests
Look at student’s school work -Students are doing work across the year. Let’s assess that, rather than a bubbletest. For instance, we can look at a piece of writing and use a standardized rubric to measure that. We can listen to a recording of a student’s reading and retelling and use a standardized measure to assess their readIng and comprehension level. The great thing is that teachers already do this. No need to fork over millions to a publisher and grading staff.
Challenges -In real life we’re assessed by how well we do, not how well we fill in bubbles. Instead of bubble tests, support young people in in tackling real challenges to demonstrate their capabilities and get scouted for awesome apprenticeship/internship/career opportunities. This is exactly what companies like Rad Matter (life is rad, make it matter) do.
Badges and Points -Folks like Tom Vander Ark (Author, Getting Smart) predict badges will be big in education and I agree. A badge (think boy/girl scouts) is an award for demonstrated mastery of a skill that has become popular as a reward mechanism in games and social networks like foursquare.com.In education a badge could be awarded for successful completion of an activity. An example of this is Code Academy co-founded by Columbia U dropout (school got in the way of learning) Zach Sims. Code Academy is a site where you learn to program by actually coding and as you do you receive points and badges as you complete each exercise. I’m a newbie learning Java and html. I have 22 points and 2 badges.
Real World Work -Encourage students to get out of the classroom and into the world doing work in an area of interest. The iSchool is an example of a school that does this well with their Areas of focus Program. Staff supports students in figuring out what it is that interest them and them helps them go out into the world and do it via an internship, apprenticeship, job. Just like in the real world, their work is assessed by their supervisor.
Real World Projects -I talk to so many students who are doing amazing work…just not in school. They’re making viral videos, writing for publications or publishing their own blogs, engaging in public speaking, etc. The problem is, in today’s paradigm of school, when we do work worthy of the world, this just doesn’t matter. Let’s change that! When kids are doing amazing things in the world, let’s give them credit for it.
Real World Accomplishments Why is it that in most cases, school will only provide credit for that which is done during their hours on their terms. Why can’t students get credit for accomplishments achieved outside of school if they provide evidence. For example, complete a marathon, win a dance contest or volleyball tournament, get physical education credit. Compete in a pig competition, get science credit. Write a travel review, get social studies credit. Perform in a recital, get music credit. In these cases, the assessment doesn’t come from the school, it comes from the real world, and that’s a good thing.
Personal Success Plans -Assessment should be customized to the student, not standardized to the system. This is exactly what happens with a personalized success plan with measurable goals. Teachers work with students to help them identify their goals then develop a real plan to achieve them. This involves input from teachers, mentors, family, friends, and community. The teacher, students, family. mentors, etc. can see at any time the student’s progress at anytime and provide scaffolded support as necessary.
ePortfolios -ePortfolios provide a great way to capture, document, make meaning, and share with others what we learn. They are a wonderful assessment tool that tells much more about a child than a letter or number on a piece of paper. Not only that, they form the basis of what can lead to academic and career success. There are numerous ways to create free, student-owned ePortfolios. Knowit App is a new site that is helping students do this work, but as ePortfolio guru Helen Barrett explains, Google Sites and Wikispaces are also great resources.
Paul Hieronymus is a consultant for technology integration for K-12 schools with the Northern Ohio Research and Training Technology Hub (NORT2H). We are a consortium of schools in Northeast Ohio working together in improve the use of technology as an educational enhancement.
Paul is a Google Certified Teacher and was the Chairman of the ISTE Special Interest group for Interactive Videoconferencing SIGIVC 2011-12. Through NORT2H we provide technology professional development to schools around the world via interactive videoconferencing. Great PD can just be an IP away!
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