"What's your beef with assessment, Matt? Everyone does it a different way. Why can't you find a model that works for you and start writing about something more relevant?"
Great question. I read a great book a few weeks ago by Lorna Earl entitled, Assessment as Learning: Using Classroom Assessment to Maximize Student Learning and the author states a very succinct rationale for the personal "assessment craziness" that continues to push me to become a better educator.

"...changing classroom assessment is the beginning of a revolution - a revolution in classroom practices of all kinds...Getting classroom assessment right is not a simplistic, either-or situation. It is a complex mix of challenging personal beliefs, rethinking instruction and learning new ways to assess for different purposes." (Earl, 2003, pp. 15-16)
How we view assessment impacts everything we do in the classroom as I've attempted to illustrate below
Earlier in the book, it "hit me" how important it is to not simply "test" or "quiz" a time or two per week or chapter. What is the purpose of these assessments?

"It is not possible to use one assessment process for the many purposes we want it to fulfill. Different purposes require vastly different approaches, and mixing the purposes is likely to ensure that none of them will be well served" (Earl, 2003, pp. 12-13)
A few thoughts resonated with me after reading about this ineffective "mix" of assessment:

  1. What is the purpose for my chapter tests and weekly quizzes? I think often times my answer might be, "because I've always done it that way" or "because the book suggests doing it that way." Are my homework problems treated/graded like a daily test? What do I do with the results of my quizzes? Do students see a difference between quizzes and tests? Should they?

  2. Are standardized-tests used for AYP designed to "drive instruction" or report student growth/achievement? From the Iowa Testing website, "From its beginning in 1935 with the Iowa Every Pupil Tests, the emphasis in the program has been on the use of ITBS results for instructional purposes." With all of the attention to testing, it seems like addressing the purpose of the most widely administered tests is the first place to start.

The answer to the above-mentioned questions may be fairly simplistic, but the motivation to change as a result of thinking about assessment continues to be a driving force for me.
"Teachers who are working with a new view of assessment as part of learning are finding that it isn't possible to change assessment and leave everything else the same. When assessment changes, so does teaching, so does classroom organization, and so does interaction w/students and parents." (Earl, 2003, p. 45)
Maybe the key to "change" in schools isn't necessarily more/less/better technology, but instead re-thinking our view of assessment. It has the potential to be the medium in which lasting reform can be begin.

Look for more posts related to assessment in the near future.