Assessment can intimidate even the most seasoned educators. Teachers often express to me that they don’t feel very confident creating assessments for students. And in many schools, especially those that serve communities in poverty and of color, there is no shortage of assessments flooding their school year. I have also had enriching conversations with other parents about assessments. How does your child’s teacher know what your child is learning? These aren’t simple questions. But they also literally aren’t rocket science.
It seems to me that many of us have our own baggage when it comes to assessment. We are affected by our perceived successes and failures in school: our grades, testing trauma, SATs, college admissions, professional certification and so on. But the system through which we have journeyed is thoroughly flawed. It doesn’t put a premium on the things that matter, civic and economic participation being two of the most important. Nor does it really measure what we increasingly understand to be vital life skills like creativity, critical thinking, inquiry, and collaboration.
To help make sense of assessment, I created this IGTV video that breaks down the basics while offering some insights about what constitutes quality assessments. To be clear: many assessments I see schools giving children are terrible. They kind of measure something but there’s not clear alignment to what teacher or parents really value–and society needs. The goal often becomes about generating data rather than insight about who the child is, how they learn, and what they envision for their life.