Friday, December 2, 2016

One assessment practice in schools that needs to change

I heard it from one of our band directors yesterday… she said, “It’s not enough to know [the note], students need to know how to use the knowledge.”  Over and over we hear and discuss this important concept about application of knowledge by our students, yet we continue with instructional practices that reinforce knowledge-level concepts. 

As we approach the end of the semester, high schools across the country are gearing up for semester exams. At the end of the semester, students have spent about 18 weeks learning about a subject, and it could be a wonderful time to have a culminating assessment or opportunity for complex thinking and problem-solving. For so long the semester exam has been about how long the testing period lasts, how many questions are on the test, and a check to see if the student still remembers something that was taught several to many weeks ago. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) provide a framework to help with progressing beyond the recall of facts to higher level thinking questions. Bloom’s Taxonomy asks, What type of thinking is needed to complete a task? while Webb’s DOK asks, How deeply do you have to understand the content to successfully interact with it? How complex is the content?

For teachers trying to move from recall to higher-level thinking questions on assessments, verb charts are a great help in the growth process. 

“Understanding is nuanced, it has degrees and facets, therefore, it's helpful to attend to degrees of learning: ‘To what extent do you want your learner to know something?’”  
                    -Israel Galindo, Wabash Center

~If we believe “it’s not enough just to know the information," how do we change our practices to align with what we believe? 
~What do semester exams look like in your school? 
~What could they look like? What needs to happen to make it a reality?

I would really love to hear from you about the semester exam practices at your school as well as your responses to the questions above. Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook

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