Policy Change in Assessments

There are new grants from the Education Department called Competitive Grants for State Assessments. These grants are part of a larger thought that we need to re-design the type of assessments we use in schools and the use we put them to in terms of accountability.

Social Emotional Assessment

There is a growing assessment need to address the social and emotional state of students as they learn. The obvious statement about this is kids learn better when they are happier, but the hidden part of this has to acknowledge that students are always learning, happy or sad, so what should educators do to assess social/emotional learning? New types of assessments that directly measure the connection between skill learning and social emotional learning would help teachers design more productive curricula.

The Threat to Play

Educators of young children have noticed a decrease in the level of play by current students in comparison to students in past decades (Bodrova, Germeroth & Leong, 2013, American Journal of Play, Strong Museum, Vol. 6, Number 1). As the trend in schools to replace play with more academic skill acquisition deepens, the long term development of children through play is threatened and the assessment of skills alone further threatens play’s important role in a child’s development.

Policy Change for Assessment

The only conclusion here is to acknowledge that assessment almost always defaults to assessment design that accurately captures a “more-simple-to-measure” type of student learning. Spelling tests come to mind as a simple way to measure student literacy, while completely missing student understanding of how words are used to increase student literacy. A possible policy change for assessment is to design more accurate assessments that capture more important data about what students are learning. More accurate data in spelling would be to connect the various types of spelling of each word’s prefixes and suffixes to help the learner become more powerful writers of those words. The same policy change in assessment of play would be to more accurately measure the mental condition of social emotional states of children as they learn to play and connect that to a more accurate understanding and assessment of skill acquisition.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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