As I entered the city limits on my way to work today, I saw a radar speed sign presumably placed by the county sheriff's department. This is not the first, nor probably the last time, I will see this sign. Rather than paying a deputy to sit at the city limit sign, they are using a piece of technology with the intent of slowing down traffic as it enters town.

No, I didn't get picked up for speeding, but the idea of a "warning" in this form reminded me of how we should be assessing our students. How often do we wait until the "test" to communicate to students' their misconceptions? The radar sign seems to be a nice metaphor for formative assessment. It gives feedback to the driver (student) in a way that is meaningful. Rather than an officer saying, "Sorry, you get a ticket today," (penalty-driven, summative assessment?) the radar sign kindly reminds us to slow down. We must help our students to "slow down" via better feedback in the form of formative assessment techniques. Waiting until the mighty officer turns on his/her sirens is simply too late!

Does this metaphor resonate with you? Are you more often the deputy or the radar sign? Leave your comments below.