KSA #01 Contextual Variables · KSA #11 Assessment

Authentic Assessment: A Building Block For Learning

What do you do when a student get’s a lower grade on their Performance Task, than they are capable? They’ve demonstrated enough competency to earn an “EM – Emergent” on their report card, but you know they are capable of more. Do you force them to keep that grade, offer them the opportunity to increase their grade by improving the areas that are lacking in their assignment or force them to re-do the assignment?

If I force them to keep their grade, what is this really teaching the student? It’s showing them that I care little about them and am willing to let them slip through the cracks. This shows the student that as long as they do enough to squeak by, they can fly under the radar and be pushed along through the education system.

If I allow them the opportunity to improve their grade, I am giving a Grade 3 student the opportunity to decide – “Do I want to do better? Do I want to show Mr. B that I know more than I showed him with this project? Do I care?” Is it just to give a Grade 3 student this decision; are they of a mature enough age to make an informed choice?

Finally, I could force them to re-do their assignment. Forcing a student to do anything is a lot of extra stress and effort on my part. In the end will they have learned anything additional to better meet the SLO or will they complete they have just completed the unspecified SLO that states “I must appease Mr. B”? In this situation, personally, I feel it will be the latter. The student might remember the information that they were meant to, but it will be with distaste and with the wrong purpose.

In this given situation, I wrote a note to home with the assigned grade. In the note, I informed both the student and parent that this particular assignment could be improved and brought back to school for re-grading. I placed the decision in the parents and the students “court”. I think that it is important to teach students to become accountable at a young age. By no means is this student failing, “EM” is your standard, average mid-line student. If the student was failing “NY” everything, this is a situation that would be handled differently, likely requiring more intense intervention. This was merely allowing a student to demonstrate that they understand they missed the boat, so to speak, and give them an opportunity to retry.

Now, what about that student that gets a “P – Proficient”, do I now allow them to try again for an “E – Excellent”? The student has again achieved lower than they may be capable of, but at a very different level. This is where the common saying, “fair is not equal” becomes very evident, in conjunction with “authentic assessment”. In the situation of a proficient and excellent student, these are special cases – and Excellent student is one that has significantly achieved beyond expectations, where as a Proficient student has demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the subject matter; the point being neither of these students are in jeopardy of not understanding assignment requirements or material.

In this situation, I exercised authenticity in my assessment recognizing that fair is not equal, understanding that this student was capable of more and allowing them a second chance.

This has become a valuable lesson for me to learn early on in my career as a pre-service teacher.

Until next time,
Mr. B

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