Karen Wootton, Director of Curriculum & Assessment, firstname.lastname@example.org
Made you look, didn’t I?
Every teacher wants an easy way to assess their students, formatively and summatively. How wonderful it would be to have a quick way to grade all that homework, all those quizzes! Imagine giving all 150 of your students a chapter test on a Friday, and having them all graded and scored instantly before you headed home for the weekend! What a dream that would be, right?
Just like losing weight and getting in shape, there are no easy, “dream” answers to the task of assessing our students. While I have wished to be thin many times, I know that wishing does not get me there! To get in shape will take a lot of hard work and discipline. It is the same for assessing our students.
Some of the younger teachers out there may not realize that there is a machine that will quickly and accurately grade and score your quizzes and tests. It is called a Scantron machine, and if you search online, you can see one in action. As quickly as the teacher can load the answer sheets, the sheets are read, marked, and scored. If you find a video of one, turn up the volume. The obnoxious clicks the Scantron makes are part of the drawback of using a Scantron!
Another drawback, and the more critical one, is that a Scantron can only grade multiple choice/true – false type questions. If the student cannot convey his answer by bubbling in a shape, the Scantron is not the machine to use. If you are teaching a CPM course, you should see this as a HUGE drawback!
Google forms now has a “Quizzes” format which will allow students to enter responses, and receive a score instantly (if you choose) along with the correct answer (if you choose). Google Self-Grading Quizzes only allow multiple choice, checkboxes, or drop down menu items. Better than a Scantron, but not by much.
Teaching and learning are complex endeavors. To suggest that it can be simplified to filling in a bubble or selecting an item in a drop down menu is actually quite foolish. When we look at student work as a way to explore the student’s understanding, we need to look for every instance of sense-making. We need to consider the nuances and subtleties of what the student wrote, drew, or recorded. We must be mindful of what was and was not discussed during class, and what knowledge is still emerging and what is already mastered.
Assessment, both formative and summative, is hard, but it is part of our job. We went into the profession to educate students, and love it or hate it, assessment is part of that process. While we can debate whether giving grades is really needed to help students learn, the research is clear that formative assessment is a key piece to ensure student learning. Consequently, assessing is a big piece of a teacher’s job. Don’t give that piece away to a machine. The machine will not do it justice. Find some colleagues to work with and commit to being intentional with your assessments.