Saturday, November 06, 2010

How to evaluate students...look at their work

Washington Post
By Monty Neill

In June, I outlined a school evaluation system to replace No Child Left Behind’s test-only accountability structure. I then described in more detail how each component would work: first school quality reviews, then annual state tests in a few grades, and now local assessments. Together, these interrelated elements provide comprehensive evidence of school progress, as well as richer information for teaching and school improvement efforts.
The best way to find out what students know and can do is to look at their actual work. In a local assessment system, teachers document student products and processes. Research projects, oral presentations, essays, problem solving using computers, and science experiments allow evaluation of higher order thinking skills and deep content knowledge that standardized tests cannot measure.
What is standardized in this system is not individual student work but the criteria for gathering and evaluating work products. With a clear structure, the work assessed can vary: what books students read, the specific choices of what to emphasize in history or biology or math, the extended projects students undertake, etc. Strong structures already exist, including the Learning Record and the Work Sampling System. Other countries have developed various approaches to this issue.

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