Saturday, February 26, 2011

Alternative Assessments

I have always felt that there is too much emphasis placed on grades. In my math classes, I often use alternative methods in order to assess my students' progress and mastery of content. However, the bottom line is that even these assessments must be ultimately translated into percentages or letter grades. Secondary schools, colleges, and universities require such defining "standards" in order to evaluate prospective applicants. Even though these institutions clearly look at the broader, overall picture of each applicant, I still believe that too many students, and parents, are far too concerned about grades--much more so than the actual learning of content.
How can we as educators/schools de-emphasize grades when our students' next schools place such high importance on these impersonal assessments?


Anonymous said...

This is a great question and one I've wrestled a bit with on my blog. I think we need to begin to offer those next schools some measures, other than grades that we think are important indicators of a student's success, character or potential, and explain why this is so.

Unknown said...

I agree. In addition, parents need to be re-programed as well so as to take some of the unnecessary pressure off of their kids and the learning process.

The Old Silly said...

Good question, and one that does not have a ready, easy answer. It would START with more educators like yourself WANTing a change to a more holistic approach to education. Classes for the parents would be needed for, as one other commenter said, "deprogramming" the parents. Perhaps a dual-score system, one for an academic grade score and a balancing measure/score for the more intangible but equally important aspects of growth and maturity like citizenship, integrity, compassion, attitude, and helpfulness.

My son, one of three kids my wife and I raised, got chewed up and spit out by the educational system. He's a right-brained, artistic dreamer type, and the "pay attention, swallow, and then spit back out the facts on a test" kind of teaching regimen he never was able to function well in and we wound up having to pay to send him to a Rudolph Steiner school where he flourished - up 'til HS, where the tuition was so high we could not afford it, and he wound up dropping out of school.

Today he's an entrepreneur doing well for himself with two thriving enterprises and continuing to self-educating himself.

Marvin D Wilson

Unknown said...

Interestingly, the private school where I teach is planning to review this very topic in depth during this summer at an Administrative/Faculty Retreat. I plan to attend and be a part of these discussions. Hopefully we will be able to come up with some strategies that we can begin to implement during the next school year that address this very real concern.

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