By Kim Miklusak
My daughter will be taking a quiz in the coming weeks where she has to name the 13 colonies. I've been helping her study on Quizlet, and she loves it! We've been practicing typing in the names, spelling, and identifying each state on the map. The problem is that I don't know how she is being assessed on these names. Does she get a blank sheet of paper and has to write them from memory? Will there be a list and she has to circle the 13? Is there a map? Does spelling count?
None of this is a criticism of my daughter's teacher by any means!! However, the whole experience as a parent has made me reflect more--and especially based on the discussions in Lead Learners over the past weeks--about the nature of assessments we give in our classrooms. Oftentimes we give a multiple choice test or matching test because it is the easiest for us to grade. We believe it assesses the students' content knowledge. But I'm telling you right now, my daughter won't do well on this test if she has to write them all from memory. And I can't help but think: if only they were to let her pick the way she wants to show her content knowledge, she would ace it!
...so as a teacher, why do I not want the same thing? Specifically as an English teacher, I understand the time commitment and workload. But I also know that I could just as easily give perhaps two or three different options for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills various times throughout various units. As long as the rubrics were equitable and the content demonstration was equal, wouldn't it be worth it?