[Response to BPR’s chapter 17]
Well, I think this chapter really hits some of the key struggles that we will face as teachers. I have never been a fan of the formal assessment measures as the sole deciding factor on what students have learned. Formal assessments are definitely NOT the final product of a student’s learning, nor should they be the sole determining factor (at least in my opinion, for whatever that’s worth, ha!).
I agree that students who are able to comprehend in multiple ways can figure out what tests are asking. I believe that we need to help our students understand the power they possess and the foundational knowledge for the literacies they possess (i.e. digital, visual). In fact, I liked this quote for that matter: “But even though they possess this wide array of literacies, these same adolescents may not be very good text analyzers, critical thinkers, or connection makers” (270). However, aren’t we missing out on what they really know if we are only assessing in one way? I feel we do our students a disservice if we don’t prepare them for the test, yet I feel we do them an even greater disservice if we don’t acknowledge how they can best showcase what they have learned and are learning…again, assessments should not be the final product.
Tying off of this idea is the fact that I don’t believe students are just numbers, statistics, or norms. I’m not saying standards aren’t important, but they should be more of benchmarks to see where to continue. We cannot generalize our students’ learning. We teach our students different ways to analyze audiences; we teach students different strategies to tie into their multiliteracies. Yet, we only offer them one real way to assess what they have learned, which is traditionally a test based on standards in a multiple choice format. I think it’s ironic we talk about giving our students a voice and yet make them conform to state mandated tests. How uncreative, boring, and unproductive these tests really are…well, I think many people could go on and on about this, including myself, so I better stop while I’m ahead, ha!
Ultimately, I couldn’t agree more with this: “I think the question we should be asking ourselves now should be not only what do we want our students to know and be able to do, but what do they need and want to know based on what they already know and are able to do, so that they move forward in their learning” (268). If we are going to keep assessments and norms and standards, then let’s do it. But let’s remember that there are other, possibly better ways to show what are students are learning in the process of their academic careers. Let’s make these assessments thoroughly productive so students can make real-world connections…and truly apply their knowledge.