C Coggins. (2013, February 13). An opportunity to talk about testing. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/02/13/21coggins.h32.html?tkn=ZMCCi%2Fv3ggFaLRGi%2BdkGNUbHBUKADFun%2BrvL&cmp=clp-sb-ascd
Teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School have boycotted against the Measures of Academic Progress assessment, which has helped spur the debate on whether or not assessments are right, wrong, or somewhere in between. Teachers unions, like the Chicago Teachers Union and United Teachers Los Angeles, have taken stands of solidarity against using assessments. The writer says that assessments in schools are here to stay, but what is needed is teacher input into how to make better assessments.
As a former teacher, I did not see the value of California’s state standardized tests. Students would be assessed in the spring, when maybe 80% of that grade’s curricula was taught, and then I would not even get the results of how that cohort did until the fall. Two things wrong with this (though there are more), are that students were assessed when the whole year wasn’t even finished, so that pushed me to try to teach everything by the time the state tests were to be administered. This led to a very frantic pace for my former school district, so much so that we teachers were put on curricula pacing calendars. There was little room for deviation from the pacing calendar, and little room for constructivist teaching and learning. To be efficient with time, we had to use the textbook and follow the pacing calendar.
Another thing wrong with the state standardized test was that the results for that spring’s assessment was only available in the fall, far after the cohort had left my classroom. Every class is different, and every child is different. And every child can be different every day, and every child is not a test-taker.
If I were still in the classroom, and I had to think of a way to assess students’ learning, I would not do multiple choice, standardized testing. Instead I would (if I could) use a portfolio-style of assessment wherein students’ learning is documented and I could see a reflection of their individual personality and intellectual growth in their work. This type of assessment is maybe more time-consuming than using a multiple-choice testing sheet and feeding it through a scanner, but I think that it is more humane and human. Learning and assessment should not be input-output, but rather a portrait of thoughts that are captured and nuanced.