Friday, September 17, 2010

Assessing discovery

Discovering a caterpillar or a milkweed pod in the meadow - eating lunch outside with friends - families working  together on Work Days -  these are school experiences that make Parker a special place in the lives of students and families. 

At our opening faculty days we talked about assessment.  We know that Parker students are learning - but how do we know?  We use a variety of assessments at Parker - just not the standardized kind.  There are far more authentic and nourishing ways to find out what students know how to do. 

"When students are challenged with authentic questions that demand reflection and thought, they are happier, healthier, and better prepared for the rigors of college, work, and citizenship."  writes John Austin in the latest Independent School magazine.

To measure for 21C skills, we want to know that students can think skeptically about numbers; that they can make a persuasive and supported argument; and that they can interpret, compare, and analyze material.  These call for assessments that are creative and dynamic.

Of course, at the basic level, we need to know that students can add, spell, and read, and these can be measured simply.  But assessing for the more complex skills that Parker is geared for, requires much more of teachers.  This year teachers will be sharing with each other all the ways they assess students - and how they comunicate their findings to students and parents, and to the outside world. 

I will be holding a coffee for parents on this topic on October 26 from 8:30 - 9:15.  I hope you will be able to join me in a discussion about what good assessment looks like!

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