Performance assessment is making a comeback! To be clear, testing and assessment are not the same, although the melding of this two terms is so far gone that distinguishing between them sounds like an academic exercise.
The difference between testing and assessment is that prior to 2000 all tests in classrooms and outside tests were all called quizzes, tests or exams depending on their importance. Assessment, to sit next to as the French would say, came into use with performance assessment in the late 1990s. Then testing subsumed all assessment ideas and here we are confused again!
Statement of the Testing Problem
Specifically, how do we help teachers inquire into student learning without more testing? Well we can all see where more testing has gotten us…no-where! What do we really need? Something that generates more accurate documentation of student learning. Could that be performance assessment? Yes it could be, but not with the same features that traditional standardized testing requires. That is precisely why we are stuck
7 African American Students
Did you see the New York Times, 03/31/19 editorial yesterday? 7 African American children were admitted to one of the three exam schools in NYC. What? 50% Asians were admitted, 28% whites, and the rest were black and Latino. Wow…something is quite wrong with this process.
Embarrassing Test Results
“The news that just seven black students were offered admission to Stuyvesant High School, the most celebrated public school in New York City, is an embarrassment. It should also be a call to action for state lawmakers, who hold the power to change an admissions process that shuts out black and Latino students from New York City’s eight selective specialized high schools, which can provide a crucial path to success.”—New York Times, 03/31/19
Educational literature from around the world is filled with the importance of changing schools and learning to a student-centered approach:
“From their initial start in Finland, approaches to an “academically taught clinical practice profession” have spread to universities in Australia in Canada…under this model, the practice of teaching is transformed from the teacher-centered stand-and-deliver approach and transmission of content to a student-centered approach that focuses as much on what the student is ready to learn as it does on what the teacher is ready to teach” (Darling-Hammond, 2017, p. 222)… “teachers abilities to inquire into student learning and plan for productive next steps is central to this approach, as is figuring out how to solve specific problems of practice” (Darling-Hammond, 2017, p. 223).
So what we need is student-centered assessment the reveals student progress in learning! Let’s use a database that can document that learning and let’s use computers, tablets and cell phones to reveal that learning. Let’s ask students to control that assessment, populate the assessment fields, find the standards they are attaining and let teachers guide the process, review the results and award badges for good learning! What? Yes, assessment revolution. Love it.