Rethinking Assessment


With all the flexible strategies in the classroom, students need to know how they are being assessed. Educators share how they assess student learning and understanding in a UDL classroom.

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Darryl Cummings, Birchland Elementary:

The assessment part. Lots of people think, “How do I assess this”. Because kids are showing their learning in so many different ways, how do you assess it. What I try to do is make sure I’m not assessing for what looks pretty or what looks nice. It’s what they can tell me about what they’ve learned. Whether they can either show me through writing, or show it through spoken word, tell me what they’ve learned.

 Trevor Stovel, Prince Rupert Middle

But for the final assessment it is going to be project based, they can do models, whatever they feel comfortable with. I’ve noticed that a lot of the students quite enjoyed just sort of expressing themselves with just drawing. They just like drawing the image. Students that I cannot get any work out of normally they’ll draw me a lovely artistic diagram, but they will not for the life of me ever write anything about it. But they can do that diagram, they can point to it, and they have a clear understanding judging from their diagram, which is drawn from memory.

Dave Searcy, Penticton Secondary

And I think we fear the, you know, how can I mark a video. Or how can I mark a poem. Or how can I mark a song. Well I’m not marking the video. I tell my students that you could give me a video that wins an academy award. And at the speech you could absolutely dog me because I failed you. You could hand in an academy award winning film and fail because you didn’t cover the question. Or you could hand in a video that’s the worst uploaded YouTube video ever that got watched once by your mother by accident, didn’t get any hits, and you get 100%. Because even though it was really bad, I’m not marking the movie, I’m marking what your understanding is.

Naryn Searcy, Princess Margaret Secondary

While I would expect students would do a very good job and they’re always passionate about their creative projects, the assessment is very clear, but that has to be made clear to the students before they even start working on the creative piece. So we spend a lot of time, on a smaller scale, we spend a lot of time going through that during the course, like whenever we do little projects, we talk about that. Okay, what is important here. What am I looking for in your projects. What are the things that I would like you to include. And so they would be briefed on that and I would only assess them on their understanding of the PLOs in literature 12.

John Lussier, Kinnikinnick Elementary

So basically what they’ll be given, these are the criteria that I’m looking for, and that’s it. And so however they will present it, all the stuff that looks great, that’s fine and it’s worth some marks, but it’s really just about the learning. So have you answered the question. If it’s in point form, yes spelling and all the mechanics counts, but not very much during a science lesson.

Lindsey Hamilton, Black Mountain Elementary

we did project based learning this year as well, so we just actually finished a science project. We made the criteria with the students, and therefore they know exactly what to expect of them, if they come to me and say is this good enough, I just tell them to go look back at the criteria, look back at the rubric that we made together.  I mean when they hand it in to me they should already know what their mark’s going to be because it’s very objective, it’s not based on the student, it’s based on what they produce.

Melissa Berrisford, Princess Margaret Secondary

Through a variety of assessments. It’s that one on one interaction, it’s the quick things that I do like I use little whiteboards in the class a lot, so it’s immediate feedback for me, I’d say put up your answer so I can right away immediately, if someone’s not putting up their whiteboard, that’s an indication I have to go see, they’re not understanding. So I use that type of feedback, assignments, projects, and tests.

Jeff Fitton, Skaha Lake Middle

I show them in advance, okay here’s your assignment, here’s an outline, here’s a good example of what 100% looks like, and here’s exactly what you’re going to be marked on here. And as a class we go through, and I say before you hand in your assignment you have to check list this and if you have anything in the 1,2, or 3 range, that’s not a 4, well you’ve got extra time, go back, work on it. You’re also allowed to redo any test, any assignment in my class, ever, at any time because I think the value in learning is yeah okay you made a mistake, you spelled the same word wrong, you’ve got the same kind of idea or structure wrong, well why wouldn’t you let a student redo it? Because then they can show okay I’ve actually learned from this.

Naryn Searcy, Princess Margaret Secondary

Every quiz or test that would be offered in class would have a re-write, where students would have an opportunity to explain why they felt they didn’t do so well the first time, and then we would go over it, and they can retest. So every retesting policy, that I’m very much about retesting for sure. And students have a second chance on every formal type assessment that we have.

Dave Searcy, Penticton Secondary

The hard thing to let go is the belief that you have to grade a piece of writing. And that you have to grade everything. You might notice in here, I did not mention marks once for that group project. There was no mark. My students don’t even ask if there’s marks because there’s no point to it. Like, we’re not doing the work because there’s a mark there. And I think that is the great fall down of the education system. We’ve created students who do the work because it’s for marks, and then when we say it’s not for marks, we get frustrated. Why won’t you do it? Really, I think you have to be able to step back and believe that students will do stuff. They’ll have fun with assignments, even if you don’t use some sort of consequential grading system to force them to do it.

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