The school systems, both public and private, are riddled with student and educator assessments. So what is the big deal, and how can you innovate on assessments? Well it starts by changing the way people think. Some of the content below might seem like common sense, you might be appalled by the fact it isn’t being universally done, or you might just disagree. The point is to start a conversation, become more transparent, and ultimately improve how we educate here in America.
Think about your time in school or as a professional, you are evaluated (assessed) usually at specified intervals; quizzes, test, midterms, final exams or yearly employee evaluations. These assessments serve only a singular purpose, to inform the person who is being assessed. Specifically what their strengths and weaknesses are. This is great! If an assessment correctly identifies a specific deficit, or core skill set, as needing work you know exactly what you have to spend more time learning or developing.
So whats the rub here? Its subtle and complicated at the same time, so lets start with how the results are reported. Traditionally, the assessment is reported as a percentage of correct in the grade book as 71/100 under Q1 Exam, and the individual being assessed gets there score or exam returned to them.
The questions you should be wondering are; how does that 71/100 score translate into what should that student focus on, what is available to the student to guide him/her to gain a better understanding of their weaknesses and their strengths. Better yet, with increasing class size in public schools how can a teacher track which students are having difficulties with what skill set, their progress over time, and how can a teacher modify instruction to target areas of need with the ability to measure improvements in specific areas.
The Reality With Assessments
The reality is these assessments are often summative, meaning that they count as an evaluative measure, instead of serving to be an informative teaching tool to measure progress and guide instruction. Can you imagine an educational setting where educators continually assess students in a non-punitive measure just to inform them on how long and what to focus their upcoming lessons on. To use this information to help educators construct new and more effective ways of teaching.
Instead our current system provides students with instruction followed immediately with a performance based assessment, and then teachers advance to the next topic or subject. Educators do not require our students to gain mastery, and we are not modifying instruction based on any feedback mechanism for the benefit of the students. The real disservice occurs when these summative assessments occur too far apart, too infrequently, and when a student cannot preform adequately they are often marked as failing. Which is too late to provide helpful instruction and remediation within the year.
Is this a problem on behalf of the student or the system? All of the ownership in education cannot be placed solely on the academic institutions, it is the responsibilities of students, parents, teachers, and communities. Our culture has come to value grades not skills or proficiency itself, which is what a grade is intended to measure. However with the added pressure being placed on grades, and teachers being evaluated with respect to the grades of their students — artificial grade inflation has swept our nation. With that being said, technology companies and corporate institutions have not done their part either. Technology innovators have not been progressively developing the tools to encourage or even support change. That is exactly what greplytix is stepping in to do.
Common Core is attempting to help identify these specific skill sets and it is getting a lot of attention, which is a good thing. However like most issues where we try to improve something the solution was not complete. You need an effective curriculum, assessments, and a seamless way to manage it that integrates into an educators work day. Ideally providing no disruptions and adding value that good educators will appreciate immediately. It is in this space of data management and effectively relaying information to inform educators is where we add value.
Join us in our endeavor, and participate in the conversation! Thank you for taking the time to read this, I am always open to hear your thoughts and ideas!