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.