Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This is the real world, Kid. No job for you!

For lack of funny kindergarten and mom stories, I'm sharing a blog I wrote in class today about fair assessment. Take it as you's just what I think.

My fellow interns and I have found ourselves in a heated discussion about good and fair assessments. What is a good assessment? How does a teacher make sure that the assessment is fair to all students? It seems to me that the best way to make sure that all student assessments are fair is to create a rubric ahead of time. This way it can be shared with students and they are already aware of what exactly is expected of them. This is the easy part.

The more difficult part comes when it is time for the teacher to evaluate the assignment. It is no secret that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning and it is no different when it comes to children. There is such a great pressure that comes with the letter grading scale because at some point, someone decided that was the easiest way to assess a learner. However, if I have learned anything in my experience as a student teacher it's that the easiest way is certainly not always the best. It takes effort from both the teacher and students to really see how well a student can perform and how much he or she can achieve.

A classmate of mine brought up the point that when a child grows up and gets into the real world, an employer is not necessarily looking for who is trying the hardest. They're looking for who is producing the best work at the fastest rate and for the most part, that's true. In my personal opinion I don't see how it relates to teaching children. Yes, children become adults and they should be prepared for what they can expect in the real world, but at what point are we forgetting that right now they're still children? Is it fair for us, as teachers, to put that pressure on them at such a young age? Personally, I agree that it is the responsibility of the teacher to prepare students for life, however it is also our responsibility to preserve their childhood. They only get one. What gives us the right to take that away from them with the pressures of performance?

It is important to keep in mind that our students are often harsher on themselves than we are. Since this is the case, shouldn't students have at least some involvement in their own evaluation? I believe that even the Kindergarteners I work with are capable of telling me whether or not they did their best work. Students need individualized goals so that everyone is challanged. They need to understand where they are so that they can work to get to where they can be. If I have twenty students with twenty individual goals and all twenty of them reach that goal, then I don't see any reason why I shouldn't have twenty "A's". What it comes down to is the fact that in order to have a fair assessment or evaluation, you need to know your students.


Vodka Mom said...

That was a fantastic post. I agree. The problem will lie with TIME. TIME is a cold hearted bitch.

Lorraine said...

Effort and Achievement aren't always equal. There are some that need to give little effort to achieve their goals and some that give great effort and fall short. We don't have an honor roll in our school, we have an effort roll. Students get graded in both, but the certificate goes to the student who has at least 5 E's for excellence and no N's for needs improvement. Is this the right way to do things?? Who knows.

And let me just take a mom jab at ya - you're not JUST anything - you have just as much to offer as anyone else with an opinion.

Queen Bee said...

@ Vodka Mom: Yeah...we know that from my many late lunch arrivals.

@ Lorraine: No N's? Is it possible for someone to not need ANY improvement?? What's the point in trying if we can't improve. Everyone can improve.

Mrs.D said...

Yeah, you are on to something. I think things should be based on particular student's capabilities.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Hawaii's elementary schools are moving towards a standards based report card. Instead of lumping all skills togther into one content area, each benchmark is addressed.

My son got a "D" in art in 4th grade from a control freak who told me that he was not able to master the skills for the various art styles she was teaching. It devastated him and afterwards he stopped doing art because he had too much pride and thought he was too junk.