Saturday, April 05, 2008

Testing Isn't HOTS

Its been a few weeks since I posted here, for a variety of reasons, but I am in the throws of 'blogger's Guilt' and need to get this post out. I get in to these periods, where I want things to change immediately and get frustrated when they don't change at the rate I want them to. Over the last few weeks I have seen some really cool things happening in Educational Technology and say why can't we do this all... TODAY!

Create, Evaluate, Analyze and Apply are the four upper levels of the Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) identified in Bloom's Taxonomy and I want to see it used more in the form of assessment but I find that in education we constantly get lost in the quagmire of easy to assess multiple choice tests.

We just finished our annual round of STAR tests at Capuchino and it is huge institutional stressor. First, we adapt the daily schedule to administer the test, while trying to maintain some modest level that some instruction is really going on. Second, we pull most of the instructional aides from their assignment to shuffle test documents and booklets from box to box in preparation for the next days test. Lastly, we maintain a J. Edgar Hoover like security with the tests, with a special room that no one is allowed to enter. Teachers walk in and they wait at a counter for one of two or three instructional aides to get them their testing material. We ask teachers to sign an affidavit swearing the utmost security for all of the testing material. (I would think this would be within someone's professional standards, but there are those who would do anything to make themselves look like better teachers than they are.)

I know the question has been asked and answered several times and in several ways in the past, but why can't we create a state wide form of assessing students that does not involve bubbling in a scannable answer document. We have done a lot with rubrics to allow for objective assessment of writing and projects, but I think one of the thrusts of teacher training in the future needs to be in assessment. One of the benefits I have seen in moving from teaching Social Science to teaching in the Technology Arts has been the authentic form of assessment that is available to me. I can assign a project for students to complete using a computer or building a network, my assessment of their efforts can be boiled down to three words... does it work? Some of the literature dealing with Professional Learning Communities advocates for students to receive grades of 'A', 'B', 'C' or 'Not Yet.' Students would work on mastery of a set objectives before moving onto a new set of objectives.

I am adding a video from Dean Shareski about assessment and goal setting, I think there are some great analogies and metaphors from the point of view of a Canadian Football player and his coach.

How should schools deal with assessment and mastery of objectives in an educational system that is rapidly changing to meet the needs of a student body that will need to have a skill set that is yet to be defined? How should we assess student learning in the future? Let me know!

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