Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Art of Assessment

Today was a staff-only day at school. We met as a full staff initially, but spun off into smaller groups to do most of the work of the day. Today was about thinking, not doing, and our work was centered around assessment. Specifically, we spent the thinking about how the term is distinct from grading. We’re planning to revise our grading system soon, and this exploration is central to the discussion we need to have about how to look at individual pieces of student work and how we as a school communicate on students’ progress to parents and colleges.

We are a creative bunch at my school, and so there was a lot of processing of the topic through media other than simple conversation. A couple of my colleagues consented to share their spur-of-the-moment artistic attempts to describe the relationship between the two terms.

First, a poem:

A dot in space,
Not as vast as the sky.
Grades, the end of a long assessment process.
Students want a grade so desperately.
The grade is hollow unless it is filled.
As a canvas, with useful feedback.
Assessment is the filler.
Grades are the final details in the
Watercolor of assessment.

Then, a doodle on a lunch plate (demonstrating that good, creative thinking can happen anywhere, on anything)

The text reads, "ongoing assessment, including students in their own grades".

Finally, a simple equation that sums up beautifully how we as a staff view the process of assessment:


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