Assessing Learning Without a Test

I just read this article in Edutopia and watched the video that I am sharing here. I am considering moving some of our classes towards Competency-Based Learning, and I think it would be a good idea to start with the kids who are struggling in a traditional teaching environment. Too many times do we hear about students who lack the necessary skills to complete a course. The problems usually start in middle school leaving the high school teachers powerless. Or are there alternatives here? I’m thinking there has to be. Even if the best thing would be for school lower down in the system to start with this, it is not too late to do it in high school. Our ultimate goal is to have a 98 % completion rate. In order to succeed we need the students at school and to start off with goals that are manageable and doable for all.  For first-year students in high- school I’m thinking one of the proficiency scales can look like this:

If you teach in a high school setting, it seems natural that after students learn, you assess, but does assessing always mean giving tests? When I was in school, the answer was yes. However, we can challenge our students far more than any test can because tests are often meant to have students regurgitate information they have learned and don’t allow them to insightfully connect with and reflect on a text.

With this kind of challenge, once students know what is expected of them, we decide as a class what creative looks like and sounds like, designing quality criteria as seen in a Critical Skills Classroom, which is focused on four key methodologies: collaborative learning, experiential learning, problem-based learning, and standards-driven learning. I find that when students have an active role in how they will be graded, they’re more likely to become invested in their work. Once they understand the assignment and the quality criteria, students are free to brainstorm as a group. Source: Edutopia

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