As we approach the Super Bowl, I’m reminded of how we like to quantify just about everything.  Football is perhaps the epitome of this.  40-yard dash times, verticals, bench presses, squats, sacks, interceptions – you name it.

But there are obvious intangibles.  A wide receiver may not have made a single reception, yet drew double coverage the whole game.  And what about character?  Leadership?  How do you quantify these things?

High-stakes tests.  A lot is riding on these numbers, right?  But there’s a lot of things these tests don’t measure – creativity, compassion, collaboration.  You know, those trivial things!

Balance is important.  Whether an NFL scout is assessing a football prospect or a teacher is assessing a student, there has to be some type of balance.

With the rollout and implementation of the Common Core Standards, I observe a lot of imbalance.  There seem to be a million and one resources that generate questions based on selected standards, then spit out an analysis – bar graphs and pie charts, ratios and percentages.

I’m not contending that these assessment tools aren’t valuable.  They are.

What I am contending is that there is more to it.  We should also be assessing students qualitatively – through conferences, small group work, projects, book discussions, etc.  In fact, I would contend that besides being more authentic, these assessments can be more accurate in determining a student’s proficiency than whether the student, for example, selected choice C when asked for the BEST answer.

Besides qualitatively assessing student proficiency of standards – whether using the CCSS or not – we can also align our instruction in a qualitative manner.  I touch upon this around the 3:45 mark in the following video.

In closing, balance is important.  On the football field, it’s difficult to have a successful team if the coaches don’t balance their plays – pass and run.  In the field of education, it’s difficult to have a successful classroom if teachers don’t balance their assessments – quantitative and qualitative.