Wednesday, September 26, 2012

3 ways to assess students, teachers, & schools without standardized tests

A theme at this week’s Education Nation was the failure of standardized tests as a measurement of student achievement and teacher effectiveness. Those who know better know that standardized tests tell us more about a student’s language acquisition, parental involvement, poverty level, and developmental level than they do about teacher effectiveness or student ability. But, it is hard for anyone to imagine how we would possible assess student, teacher, and school effectiveness without the mindless drill, kill, bubblefill that forces students to memorize and regurgitate on demand.  Yet we all know these are not the skills that our students need for success in life.  

So how might we measure students, teachers, and schools if there were no tests? There are countless ways besides the mega-billion testing industry model, but here are three ideas for our policy makers like Mitt Romney who admit they don't know a better model than a testing system.



  1. Measure student achievement via authentic teacher assessment Teachers already have plenty of standardized measures of student growth. For example a teacher can do a running record to assess a child’s reading ability and measure their growth across the year.  We can assess a student’s authentic writing with standardized and normed writing rubrics. School systems like West Virginia are using these assessments.
  2. Measure teacher effectiveness via students and parent satisfaction Are the children happy and satisfied with teaching, learning, and relationships? Do parents feel involved? States like Rhode Island use these measures to assess schools and this research-based method is coming to more and more schools.
  3. Measure school effectiveness by ensuring students move on to college or career Measure what really matters. Employers and colleges know that good candidates are not produced as a result of forced memorization and regurgitation onto standardized tests. Hold schools accountable for ensuring students are prepared in ways that matter. This means each student moves on to the college, career, or an experience that aligns with their interests and goals. School models like Big Picture measure success and hold their schools accountable in this way.

Stay tuned to The Innovative Educator blog for more alternatives to standardized testing. Until then you might enjoy reading 9 Ways to Assess without Standardized Tests and Transform education by measuring what matters.

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