Random Thoughts About Assessment Reporting

I am not an assessment guru! But it seems that many schools still report grades the same as 20 years ago. I hate generalizing but, it is sad to see a percentage grade and a general comment to report our students’ learning. We have improved in the area of online reporting of our grades, but many schools still have print out report cards with comments on them. I think it is extremely odd to report our 21st century learning on a paper report card. Why don’t more schools have a paperless report card? Here is a New Jersey school district that have moved to paperless reporting. We have paperless banking, why not paperless report cards. We could also use technology (texting, email) to update parents and students when report cards are released. Currently, my dentist and mortgage broker send texts to remind me of my appointments and to wish me a happy birthday.

Or should we head down the road of a checklist-type report card. This idea stems from Atul Gawande and his book “The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right”. The book’s main point is simple: no matter how expert you may be, well-designed checklists can improve outcomes. Gawande applies the book to surgical teams, pilots, and  people that build skyscrapers. Maybe teachers could improve the learning of students by using a checklist system for curricular outcomes. Attached is a surgery checklist used by the World Health Organization developed with Gawande.

Surgical Safety Checklist Production

Or why don’t we move towards a more competency based system? In Alberta, we have the new Framework for Student Learning, which has a graphic that covers the competencies that we would like in a 21st Century student.


A collegue of mine, Greg Miller, had an excellent post on his blog titled ” How Do We Measure a Competency?” In his blog, with which I agree, Greg states “that we should be exploring competency-based authentic assessment with a great deal of enthusiasm in our schools today.  Let’s give our teachers the necessary time and support to come together and work on this.  They’re the best resource we have.” Greg makes a super point of who should be completing the work, but when and where is the BIG question!

I have found a district in Denver, Colorado that has moved to a Compentency Based System (CBS). The entire educational system is organized around engaging students in 21st century skills. Students work at their development level and only advance when they have demostrated proficiency or mastery of a skill. Check out their site and look at their four core beliefs – learning is constant, time is the variable, personalized delivery, and systemic and systematic in nature. If you have extra time, take a look through the CBS that they have established. This was a system wide movement; if you need a quick brief, then check out the FAQ section.

Like I said at the start of this post, I am not an assessment guru! I think things should change and the biggest hurdle might be where and who will start a movement. I personally lean towards the CBS model; to implement this system it will take leadership from all levels – students, teachers, board members, parents, and adminstration.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s