I had the chance to quickly visit with an eighth grade student about assessment. The conversation that ensued was so wonderful that I had to share it!
Student: ‘I look at assessment differently now.’
Me: ‘How so?’
Student: ‘When they (the teachers) give us a specific test date, we are just cramming the information in our heads for the test and then we forget it.’
Me: ‘What’s more important, assessing on a particular date or learning?’
Me: ‘What would happen if you prepared for an assessment, thought you were ready, but it didn’t go well? Would your teacher allow a retake?’
Student: ‘They should.’
Me: ‘What’s most important?’
Student: ‘That you learn it.’
In this particular class, the students have a voice and choice in when they assess. So then the conversation shifted a bit.
Me: ‘When are you going to take this assessment?’ (some of the students in his class were assessing that day)
Student: ‘I don’t feel ready for the assessment today because I have been really busy with basketball and need to do more practice. I am going to take it Thursday because I’ll have enough time to prepare. In the meantime, I am going to practice and start the work for next week.’
Would you, as an instructor, have a problem with this? Do we penalize a student who needs more practice with a concept or skill, or allow them the time and space to develop proficiency? Do we save ourselves time in the end by making sure there are no gaps throughout the process? What about student confidence…isn’t this essential as they move forward?
It all goes back to this sentiment…I don’t care so much when you learn it, I care that you learn it.
**A quick side note…did you notice that grading didn’t even come up in this conversation? It wasn’t about getting a good grade, it was about learning. He knows that when the learning happens, the grade will follow.