Sunday, November 19, 2006

We need a "how to" --creating an environment that encourages assessment AS learning

"How's school?" I asked our neighbor's son, as he and his Dad delivered the Cub Scout popcorn we had ordered this afternoon. He shrugged and said "Ok". I pushed a touch more--"Am I getting the feeling you're not fond of school?" Another shrug and "I like gym." Third grade and not liking school! And I've heard that more and more. In my day, in third grade, we loved school. As a matter of fact, we enjoyed school throughout our K12 years. I looked to his Dad who said all they do is talk about the test and preparing for the test. I nodded in agreement. Our school district has been rated "excellent" by the state. Our doctor has shared with me that he sees more and more younsters, younger kids with migraines and stomach problems, especially around "the test". What are schools doing with our children? The joy of learning, the opportunity to reflect upon what is learned have been hijacked and "high stakes" summative testing has taken their place.

Now I've realized that for sometime; its just difficult hearing it again from someone who is so young. And even more so with Darren recently sharing his thoughts and practice around the concept of Assessment as Learning. I became excited when he shared his thoughts last year. In his recent post, he has shared not only how this concept is evolving in his practice but also a great list of resources (oh how I wish NCTM would make all their resources available with a trial membership). With the exception of the NCTM links, the research he cites seems to be European and Canadian. I had read the PDK article when it was published in Phi Delta Kappan, the authors of which are from the U.K. And the Assessment is for Learning website is from Scotland. I find the resources there to be extremely exciting and full of potential for engaging youngsters in assessment as learning. I set out to find the "U.S." take on what I see as a critical component in learning. I couldn't locate any resources-- sigh! Perhaps it was lack of skill in locating information on my part?

I can't help but think that if the child I spoke to this afternoon had had some input into his learning goals, and had had opportunities for reflection and self/peer assessment --that his responses about school might have been far different!! How can we help U. S. teachers and districts, burdened by the summative testing of NCLB, understand the importance of assessment as learning and assist in the creation of an environment that encourages such practice? How can we help them learn from the Europeans and Canadians?

1 comment:

Darren Kuropatwa said...

It's definitely not lack of skill in locating information on your part ... the UK is leading the way in this. Even the Canadian resources are just summaries of the real work being done in the UK. I haven't found any high quality US sites with info or resources about assessment as learning.

The net is a great equalizer though; we all have access to the stuff the good folks across the pond have made available ... and Ewan says there are about be be some significant additions made to the Scottish resources. ;-)