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Friday, August 2, 2019

Assessment should not be something done to learners

This image may be old, but it still defines my work as a teacher today.
We are living in a time when assessment, learning, and teaching in our public schools is about measuring, quantifying, weighing, sorting, speeding things up, and labeling who is worthy, and who is to blame. Learners and teachers are living in a time of great damage. Where is the hope in this assessment game of blame?  I am not seeing it.

Something about assessment, teaching and learning that these number crunchers, education reformers, policymakers, and data chasers have not gotten. These data-driven people who say with certainty that our data defines what you are, and where you shall go. I have even heard some of these data chasers claiming to be able to see who is college-ready or not in grades one or two. It is in this kind of thinking that the race to nowhere begins. 

The Latin origins of the very term assessment are "to sit with". Think about it, it does not say 'to do to", it requires sitting signifies sitting next to, and that to me indicates that assessment is a teaching and learning journey together. Both teachers and learners working together, growing together, each one part of something more powerful than some correct answer. No one knows how far a child may go, no test defines them, should limit them. Children are more than test scores.   

Assessment should be not your gate, but the path forward, and teacher and student should walk that path together, for we are in it together. Assessment should be about blame, but about hope. They have turned assessment into a game of numbers. A game of winners and losers, and if you accept their own data than surely you can see they are losing. 

I reject this shame and blame game. I see a path to hope not in their data, but on the faces of those I teach. The data that matters to me? Living and feeling learners who only request to their teachers is to guide them, walk a little with them and help them see more in themselves.
Children are more than test scores, teachers are more than data machines, and hope lives somewhere between the journeys taken together.   

Dr. Jesse P. Turner 
CCSU Literacy Center Director 

If you want to listen to the tune that inspires my morning walk today...its Natalie Merchants 1995 song "Wonder"

"Ooo, I believe, fate, fate smiled 

And destiny laughed as she came to my cradle 

Know this child will be able
Laughed as my body she lifted
Know this child will be gifted
With love, with patience, and with faith
She'll make her way, she'll make her way" ~ Wonder

1 comment:

  1. amazing article and speaks volume of the current toxic culture we have to deal with daily now a days.