Assessing Learning

Most of my students are in the middle of taking the state math test this week. This test is a fairly embattled event, with attempts being made form all sides to either shape it up or ship it out. Last year, this same test was thrown out when over half the state’s sophomores failed it.

As the test is still a graduation for this year’s sophomores, my students are naturally very nervous (and very hopeful the test will be thrown out yet again).

These same kids have taken the state exams nearly every year since they were eight years old. These same kids not only sit for two to three weeks of testing per year, but in high school (and more and more junior highs), they are also completing a culminating project each year that is supposed to demonstrate in some way shape or form what they’ve learned during the year.

It makes me wonder…is it really necessary to put these kids through both a standardized test and a culminating projects? Are we maybe asking too much of these kids? What can a standardized test tell us about our students that a directed year-long project can’t, especially if parts of the project are created in response to class assignments?

What are we really trying to accomplish? What do we want the students to come away with?

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