A Test of Value

Try It

So very much depends on how we assess student work. Use this video as a conversation starter for meetings (department, PLC, faculty) to spark discussion of the purpose of assessment, how current assessment practices miss the mark, and what types of assessments best serve student needs. And it may seem risky to pivot away from high-stakes standardized exams, but take comfort. Again and again, schools that unleash students on meaningful challenges find that their test scores on mandated exams don’t decline — and often increase. A kid who can’t wait to get to school, whose mind is racing all day long, is a kid who is learning. And that beats a kid pushed through test-prep worksheets.

Discuss It

  • What struck you as noteworthy about this video?
  • What is the purpose of assessment? What is it for current assessments? What should it be?
  • Why are school tests structured the way they are?
  • Do our assessments align with the skills we want our students to learn?
  • If students had open access to all resources, how would that affect our current tests? Under what circumstances should students not have access to outside resources?
  • How important a life skill is the ability to identify, curate, fact-check, and synthesize outside resources?
  • What micro-innovations could help us assess our assessments? Assess students in settings more like adult life?

Go Deeper  

We know that what gets assessed is what gets taught, so changing assessments can rapidly transform learning experiences. Observe the impact of a short-term shift in assessments (for a class, a grade, and school). Here’s one idea — schedule a public exhibition of student work a few weeks from now, and see how quickly your students start creating bold initiatives!

To see collaborative assessments in action, watch this video and guess what these students are doing. Odds are you won’t figure this out!  The comments section below the video explains what they’re up to.

Learn how the ultimate K12 assessment — the student transcript — is undergoing deep change via The Mastery Transcript Consortium, a network of public and private schools introducing a digital high school transcript that allows all students to have their unique strengths, abilities, interests, and histories fostered, understood, and celebrated.