kitchen table math, the sequel: Education Evolution: From the pop quiz to formative assessment

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Education Evolution: From the pop quiz to formative assessment

So, let me make sure I have this right:

Schools now ask students to take tests that don't count on stuff they haven't seen in order to determine how to judge later how much those same students have learned whether or not the teacher really teaches it. They call this summative assessment. And they give tests that don't count on stuff that they may or may not have seen in order to determine if any of them have enough of the skills to skip those subjects and do enrichment instead, and to determine which of them don't have the skills to do the new material anyway. They call this formative assessment. They might also give tests that don't count on stuff they saw in the past to break up students into groups according to what they know. They call that placement.

These are all seen as separate concepts.

But they don't give students homework that they grade. And they don't give pop quizzes that they grade.

No common sense-y.

The schools have separated the incentive to learn the material from their assessment.

That's really astoundingly stupid.

It's as if the schools forgot that gee, the reason we gave homework and pop quizzes was to *encourage students to actually practice and therefore learn* the material. And lo, it had the benefit that if all of the kids did poorly, it meant the teacher hadn't taught it properly, and needed to do something different.

Course correction by the teacher can occur immediately if you poll the class immediately. And course correction by the student can occur immediately if you poll the student immediately.

These are truths so obvious I bet most parents have no idea that this doesn't happen.

But no, we've moved beyond silly homework and pop quizzes. Kids need to learn to be self directed. Teachers have material to get through! Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead!

The other part that sticks out is how these assessments are all separate ideas to solve separate goal, when giving the kids homework and quizzes and remediation as needed solves the problems that the summative assessment and formative assessments are needed for.

Again: a linear progression of material over the year, where each unit builds on the last, along with homework and pop quizzes and test to immediately determine if yesterday's material was understood by the class before moving on.

Common Sense-y.

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