The impact of high-stakes testing.

I just found this article by Arthur Camins ; Care is what matters. Assessment is the tell. One of the sentences that really hit me was this one: 

So, when asked, “How do you want students to think about assessment?” a response that conveys care might be: “I want students to say that assessment is how I get feedback about how I can learn more.”

As both a school leader and a teacher this is definitely what we are looking for in our schools. I attended a seminar yesterday with Andy Hargreaves as the last keynote, he finished at 22:04, after several glasses of prosecco for the audience. You would think there was a thin crowd left at that hour of the evening. But no, most of the seminar participants stayed on, since it was both interesting and fascinating to hear what he had to share with us. He discussed the why and how students work to avoid assessments and the different methods they use.

Today in the Norwegian news we heard how 15-year-olds, are flashing their “winnings” from their Norwegian confirmation parties. The “winners” sharing their money gifts, often amounting to 50.000 kroner or more. With social media kids growing up are being judged and measured all the time. And school is not a place where they can relax and feel valued. At least not in every school or in every class. Something to think about when wrapping up this school year and preparing for the next? The points from this article found below.

Talking about being assessed all the time: In China, they are currently working on a system that ranks citizens with a social credit system. To me, it looks like a scary future prediction becomes true. Can you imagine growing up with something like this?

The Chinese state is setting up a vast ranking system system that will monitor the behaviour of its enormous population, and rank them all based on their “social credit.” Like private credit scores, a person’s social score can move up and down depending on their behaviour. The exact methodology is a secret — but examples of infractions include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online.

Here are some of the consequenses for “bad” social behaviour, article found in the Independent.

  1. Banning you from flying or getting the train.
  2. Throttling your internet speeds.
  3. Banning you or your kids from the best schools.
  4.  Stopping you getting the best jobs.
  5. . Keeping you out of the best hotels.
  6. . Being publicly named as a bad citizen

More from the article about assessment here:

How can assessment demonstrate to students that they are known?

I’ve seen this demonstrated in myriad ways in classrooms over many years.  A teacher takes the time to make a substantive personal comment about a student’s work that conveys that she has taken the time to notice.  Walking by a student’s desk, a teacher quietly says, “I saw you have begun to use more detail to support your conclusions in your science notebook.” Or, on a student’s way out of the door, the teacher makes a homework suggestion. “Try to write a bit more tonight about what you said in class today about the difference between weather and climate.” The child hears, “The teacher is listening to me.”  That is assessment that shows care.

When educators know individual student’s strengths and gaps in understanding, their idiosyncrasies and inclinations, and how they respond to different kinds of feedback, students experience affirming and motivational care.

How can assessment demonstrate respect?

Respect is demonstrated when students see assessment as a way to get information about how they can improve. That conveys to students that there are expectations, but that they are always capable of improvement. Students who think the goal of assessment is getting grades, come to believe that they cannot be trusted to want to do better without some bribe or punishment and behave accordingly.  That is when teachers hear, “Is this going to be on the test” in response to an assignment.

Of course, students cannot know what a well-developed, evidence-based scientific conclusion or an essay about the contributors to a historical event looks like without instruction and iterative practice. They can use assessment as a learning tool by comparing their work with exemplars and thinking about how to improve.  That demonstrates respect and care.

The nature of the tasks and response to their work sends a message to children about what matters most. We all know the affirming feeling of being known, valued, and respected when we interact with others. We all know the pain of their absence and how it shuts down our best thinking.


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