We all want to know how our students are doing. That need to compare. Are they really getting it or am I just wasting my breath talking? Is it going in one ear and out the other? Are they making connections? So we test. And sometimes, in order to prove they know it, we teach exactly what we know is going to be tested. But there is rarely one way to do anything and assessments are no different.
While you can't escape the tests driven by policy, you can control the other assessment periods. The challenge is to balance single-answer tests with those that call for students to construct open-ended responses, solve problems, and apply knowledge. (Hardiman, 2012).
What does this look like in practice?
Portfolios or bodies of work over a term or year; projects; a student in Vicky Krug's developmental writing class illustrated her knowledge of process paragraphs by bringing in a cake and sharing the recipe (process paragraphs explains how to do something).
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