Kate Taluga on Assessment

I got a couple of emails this morning, one from Kate and one from Michele. I think both are very important in our ongoing discussion about assessment. I had said about three weeks ago that I no longer use the participation self evaluation rubrics (resources page of this site under posters) because some of the kids lie on them. This causes me endless tracking down of kids one to one to challenge them about what they really did in class. There is simply no time for that. Kate suggests that we give the assessments anyway but not count them and not challenge the kids if they lie. I think this is a good idea:
Ben,
Nothing in our mainstream schools require students to evaluate themselves and their work (a critical missing component for self-determination and independent thinking). Yet, if the purpose of schools is to build responsible citizens (i.e. John Dewey), self-evaluation is critical. If you are not grading them on their self-evaluation, what do you care if they lie? They are looking at it from their own perspective (not yours). If they don’t answer the self-evaluation, what do you care? You have the 10 questions [ed. note: I assume this is the quick quiz] you need for your evaluation to answer the administration, parent and students needs for a grade. Self-evaluation is just that. A question or two that never changes from day to day at the bottom of their quiz form. Did I do my part in participation? How did I demonstrate that I did that? What may have kept me from doing my part?
Our students come to us with a myriad of baggage each day. They need to think about what keeps them from showing up and giving their 50%. They need to know what they do that demonstrates they are with us. Sure, at first they are putting down what they think you want, when you don’t make comment to it but are demonstrating in your daily classroom LIVE experience that you care about them and they have a relationship with you, they may or may not begin to use the self-evaluation as their own tool as they rush off to the next class. [underlining mine]
[ed.comment: Kate is suggesting in the underlined sentence- Kate correct me if I’m off base here – that we give the participation self evaluation quiz often but do not use it in the gradebook, that the fact of being asked to self reflect is a good thing even if they lie, that in class formative contact with the kids is the real deal anyway. I agree with that.]
The point I am trying to make is that somewhere in the day, instead of “the system” demanding evaluation, they are asked to do their own assessment and it is simple. This is important not because of more work for us. It is the same questions day in day out at the bottom of the quiz form. It is because you are building in the students independent thinking skills. In life, what does it matter what some legislator or administrator thinks about us? It matters what we think about us. [ed. note: I’m still working on that one…]
In this atmosphere of legislated assessment, I keep coming back to where do we teach young people the confidence to look to themselves for “their answers to life” rather than what they think parents, teachers, and bosses want?
Kate
[ed. note: with this idea, at least, the kids – even momentarily – must self reflect about what they are giving to the group. They rarely do that in terms of their contribution to the classroom process; their social process in the hallways seems to get most of their time. What a crazy job we have!]

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