May 24, 2012

Why can't administrators figure out assessment?

Many of my colleagues understand me. They don't agree with all of my methods, but the logic behind results-only learning is clear.

Why, then, can't administrators get it?

I've made it clear in many places, that narrative feedback is far more objective than grades. The SE2R method I use, eliminates the subjectivity that comes with numbers and letter grades. I tell a student what she did, explain how it matches learning outcomes, redirect her to a prior lesson if necessary and request a resubmission of any changed activity. Simple and objective enough, right?

Not to a principal. Today, I was asked to share my "grades" on a particular student with a principal. After one quick glance at the lengthy, detailed narrative feedback left on our online grade book, she said, "So, it's just all of these subjective comments?"

Of course, I quickly explained that my feedback was not subjective at all. In fact, I proclaimed, my feedback is far more objective than any points or percentages would be. The principal persisted.

After reading feedback that ended in 'You have demonstrated mastery learning on this activity,' she looked at me quizzically and wondered aloud what the points on that activity would be. "I  assume it would be 100%," she stated.

When I persisted that there are no points, percentages or grades, she strode off shaking her head.

I started shaking my head, too, wondering when, and if, administrators will ever figure out 21st-century assessment.