In my next post, I will share an assessment plan that I think will work in any high school. Before I do that, though, I need to outline my core beliefs about assessment. These are the things that will shape my plan.
Belief #1 – Grades must reflect student learning vs. curricular outcomes.
I will design quality summative assessments that will give me a good picture of how my students are performing compared to the curricular standards. As much as possible, I will use a variety of summative assessments to meet student needs. To accurately judge, I need my students to do these summative assessments. I don’t need more than 5-10 summative assessments to assess my students in a semestered high school course.
Belief #2 – Formative assessment will be embedded into my lessons.
Formative assessment allows students to get feedback before they write the summative assessments. This feedback helps ensure that they will do as well as possible on the summative assessments. Formative assessment is to help students learn, and should never factor into a grade. Homework is formative.
Belief #3 – Until behaviour is written into my curriculum, I can’t assess it.
I value things like perseverance, work ethic, attitude, punctuality, organization, neatness, and effort. I will report to parents what behaviours I see from their children. That reporting won’t be in the form of a grade, though. If it’s not in my curriculum, it’s not assessable. I will not artificially inflate student grades by rewarding good behaviour. I will not artificially lower student grades by punishing bad behaviour. Grades and behaviour must remain separate.
Belief #4 – I will give students second chances to meet my curricular standards.
My curriculum doesn’t suggest that students have to factor polynomials on September 19. It just says they have to be able to factor polynomials. If, by the end of the course, a student can show me that he has mastered something he previously failed, I will give him the credit. My standards remain high, but I am open to giving students multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery.
Belief #5 – I don’t hate kids.
I refuse to punish kids with grades. I teach responsibility by making them accountable for the assessments I need them to do. I enlist supportive parents and administration to help me help the kids. They’re kids. They’re worth the effort.