What do we mean by assessment?
What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word “Assessment?” Most of you are probably thinking “test.” We are deeply trained during our time in school to think of assessment as something that happens AFTER the work is done. You read a chapter of a book or complete a unit and then you have a test. By the time you get the grade back on your test, you have already moved on to the next chapter or unit. So the actual feedback you get about what you learned is not about doing it again at a better level; it’s telling you where you rank among the people around you. Our collective experience with assessment is about winning or losing, about good grades and bad grades, but not often enough about improving performance.
The primary purpose of assessment as we define it is to improve performance, through careful design and feedback, not merely to audit it, or judge it.
What if the primary purpose of all assessment was to improve performance? In schools, there were always two people who understood this concept: your coach and your performing arts teacher. Can you imagine your basketball coach waiting until the end of the season to tell you that the reason you missed all of those foul shots was because your feet were too close together? Of course not. He would blow the whistle in practice and say, “Do it again!” Your performing arts teacher understood that the performance was not about the grade, but about the process as well as the performance itself, because whenever there’s a performance, there’s constant feedback along the way; it’s not, “You’re a winner,” or “You’re a loser,” but, “We’re working together to make this better.”
Ok, so you understand what we mean when we say that the primary goal of good assessment is improving performance, not merely auditing it. Now what? Where do you start?
- Intro: the Dodge Assessment Initiative Online Workshop
- Are there any aspects of your work that you wish were better?
- What do we mean by assessment?
- What is exemplary feedback?
- Planning backwards
- The rubric: if you can describe it, you can measure it
- Rubric practice
- See how others have written their rubrics.
- Rubric review
- Important reminders about the rubric writing process.
- Uh oh. Roadblocks.
- Overcoming the obstacle of time.
- QII and assessment exercises.
- Overcoming the obstacle of change.
- Assessment principles and concepts. One more time.