I've had several anguished conversations with friends in the past few weeks. These are people with young children, particularly boys, who are watching their kids disengage from school, start to feel anxious about school, begin to dislike school. Whereas backpacks and shoes used to fly on in the morning, now they have to coax and cajole to get their kids out the door. They feel powerless to change the classroom environment and they are desperate for their kids to feel successful and happy at school. They are at their wits' end.
What's happening? I have one word: assessment. Assessment is happening to these kids. Assessment is the reason that teachers have all kids sitting at desks doing the same task at the same time in the same way. Their success on that task is assessed based on whether they're doing it the 'right' way. This is the way assessment gets done in many classrooms.
So let's talk about assessment for a few minutes.
How do you assess student learning? What tools do you use? What data do you consider relevant and what data do you exclude? Does assessment information only count when it comes nicely packaged on a piece of paper?
Here's an example:...