My daughter is in preschool and actually takes tests and gets a report card. Her tests consist of her teacher asking her to cut or draw something or identify letters or colors. When I get her “report card” it tells me whether she is satisfactorily completing a series of developmental and cognitive tasks like “counts to 20,” “manipulates a zipper,” “uses scissors,” “recognizes lower case letters,” and so on.
What if we did that in world language class? What would that look like?
What if we threw out scoring a writing segment as a 42 out of 50? What if our students didn’t get report cards with letters like B or numbers like 87?
Recently a friend and her administrator were at odds with one another; he did not approve of her rubric (which, incidentally, is the same as my rubric) not having numerical grades on it. I discussed with her ways she could gently expose him to more progressive thinking. As a compromise, she now uses a different rubric that does use some proficiency-based language but features grades. Guess what happened. The kids hated it. “Before, we knew what we had to do to improve,” they said.
What would happen if instead of reporting grades with numbers and letters, we reported progress on actual real-world tasks, just like kindergarten? What if we reported progress using phrases like these:
- maintains accuracy in multiple time frames
- uses sentences instead of fragments when appropriate
- responds without asking for repetition in the absence of other distracting factors.
I’ll tell you what would happen. Students would have concrete information on where they are and where they’re going. They’d know exactly what they’d improved on (pat on the back!) and exactly what they needed to do to go even farther (I can get there!). We’d start to see real assessment reform in a very broken assessment system.
Now, if we could just reinstate mandatory nap-time.
Foto credit: Jaime Herrera Espinosa