Observation, Discussion, Product…
There is so much bulls**t assessment out there.
Report cards, annual reviews, etc.
It needs to change. I feel that I have learned how to do proper assessment through working in an open inquiry school environment over the last 4 years.
A couple of years ago, through our research, we came across this form of assessment. I particularly like it. Assessment of kids should include all 3 of these things captured through a working portfolio.
Observe what they do, how responsible they are, how they collaborate. Get the students to write about it. Assess it in competencies instead of courses: personal planning, leadership, etc.
Discuss what they have been learning. Again, make note of it in their portfolios. I have had some amazing deep learning experiences with students over the last 4 years through conversation. Now that I think about it, this is probably the most useful form of assessment that I have ever done.
Product. I personally love product. All products involve processes. They are inseparable. Building something that people can hold in their hands, present, or interact with in some way is just so satisfying. It is invaluable to learn how to produce high quality things.
This practice is ongoing and rarely summative. Student learning does not culminate in unit exam multiple choice tests. It is authentic and emergent — driven from where their path leads (guided by a teacher!). I strongly feel that this is such a powerful way to get the most learning out of a person and give them effective feedback. It is also highly rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable.
The problem is in its inefficiency as most of this happens one on one and relies on mega talented, nimble teachers. It is difficult to scale one on one. Groupings are necessary for scalability in my opinion.
If we change the way we assess in school, we capture more learning and give our kids way more chances of improving. Sounds good to me.