This is my Week 3. I’m behind.
Assessment and evaluation are not exciting words. Are they? Maybe it is the connotation surrounding the words. In twenty years of being an educator, the amount of essays I have graded must be in the billions. A hyperbole? Perhaps. Billion certainly feels like an accurate number sometimes. As a composition teacher, when I think of assessment and evaluation, I think of my students writing essays. It was not until I attended a conference about ten years ago when my view of assessment changed. The district I was working in, at the time, began assigning us to Professional Learning Communities. The definition of a PLC was a group of teachers at the same level, all the senior teachers for example, working together to create common assessments for all of the students. We would meet once a month. At some point, I became the Lead Senior Teacher. All of the PLC Leads were sent to a conference on Learning Communities and Assessment by Solution Tree. There, I heard inspirational solutions from Rob Marzano, Richard and Rebecca DuFour, and Anthony Muhammad. The culture of assessment presented was ground-breaking, research-based, and credible with real-world examples of proof. It made me want to change the world. Well, the assessment world. While I was exposed to definitions and examples of formative and summative assessment, the vital piece of information about assessment that I gleaned from the summit was a protocol of three questions to ask myself about evaluating students:
- What do I want students to know?
- How will I know if they learned it?
- What will I do if they do not?
To me, there was not a choice but to choose to incorporate this innovative way of thinking. Once I embedded the above into my pedagogy, there was no turning back. Of course, the cornerstone of my teaching philosophy is my guiding statement of always doing what is best for students; however, it could not be accomplished without assessing their learning by asking hard questions and being honest with the answers, especially with number three.