New assessment model lets students collaborate and share understanding
- Some teachers are turning assessments into collaborative experiences, letting students work out problems with peers before tackling individual tests alone.
- Both teachers and students who have tried this method say that students approach these new assessments with a better mindset, increase their overall understanding and generally score better, according to education thought leader Alan November.
- The social assessment model now being used by K-12 schools grew out of an idea first practiced in a Harvard physics class. Despite hesitations that middle and high school students would be less motivated than Harvard students, teachers say it works well with students of all calibers.
After years of complaints from parents and advocacy groups about over-testing and state standards that encourage "teaching to the test" the end of the No Child Left Behind era and the dawn of ESSA may slowly change the way assessment is handled across the country. States now have more freedom to determine how they measure success and are now unchained from massive end-of-year exams, choosing, if they wish, to break testing into smaller chunks.
ESSA is also funding "innovative assessment pilots" where states, or groups of states, can apply to receive support for trying new models of assessment — something already drawing strong interest from states.
All of these changes could mean that teachers and students begin to view assessments as a new opportunity for increasing student understanding, not simply a mandated burden to get through. The current status quo high-stakes testing system had already reached its limit, with large opt-out movements, such as the one in New York, undermining its efficacy. New models that put an emphasis on creativity, collaboration and better communication can only be a welcome change.