9 Ways to Assess without Standardized Tests

Article excerpt

We know standardized testing is a challenge. But what's the solution? Here are nine ways your school district can assess students without standardized tests:

1 Look at each student's schoolwork: Students are doing work throughout the year. So let's assess that, rather than a bubble test. For instance, we can look at a piece of writing and use a standardized rubric for measurement. We can listen to a recording of a student's reading and retelling and use a standardized measure to assess the student's reading and comprehension level. The great thing is that many teachers are already doing this.

2 Games: More games are being created to allow us to determine a student's level of mastery by the ability to progress in a game. Some examples include simulation games and contests like Tabula Digita and Manga High.

3 Challenges: In real life, we're assessed by how well we do, not by how well we fill in bubbles. We can help young people tackle real-life challenges that demonstrate their capabilities and get them noticed for awesome apprenticeships, internships, or career opportunities. This is exactly what companies like Pad Matter (life is rad, make it matter) do.

4 Badges and Points: Folks like Tom Vander Ark (author of Getting Smart) predict that badges will be big in education. A badge (e.g., think Boy or Girl Scouts) is a popular award for demonstrated mastery of a skill in games and social networks like foursquare.com. In education, a badge could be awarded for successful completion of an activity. An example of this kind of reward system is Code Academy, co-founded by Columbia University dropout Zach Sims. On the Code Academy website, you learn to program by actually coding and you receive points and badges as you complete each exercise.

5 Real-World Work: Encourage your students to get out of the classroom and into the world by exploring an area of interest. iSchool is an example of a school that does this well with their Areas of Focus Program. The staff helps students figure out their interests and guides them toward internships, apprenticeships, and jobs. …