Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Defining Success

John Wooden defines success in the following way, "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable."

In the most perfect situation for education this would also be the model for assessment of student success.
Students and teachers would measure learning based upon each student's growth from a baseline and monitor that growth throughout the year as the student meets individual benchmarks toward an goal agreed upon by both the student and the teacher.

Students may be poorly prepared for a variety of reasons, including transferring from a different school, inconsistent teachers, poor classroom environment, family situation, or learning differences.  These students start behind and are constantly measured against the standards of excellence as determined by the students at the top of the class.  These struggling students may spend an entire year working as diligently as possible, completing as many assignments as possible and actually learning measurably more content than other students in the class, and yet they may only achieve score of 75% and earn a C grade.

Would we ever start a 100 m race and one runner begin 20 meters behind the other runners?  Even though the runner who starts 20 m behind may run 100 m in less time than the other runners he would still be behind the other racers at the finish line.  Does this mean the runner does not deserve to be measured by the effort exerted and time accomplished?  If his time in 100 m is comprable or better than the winner of the race, should'nt  he be rewarded for that or still be penalized for starting 20 meters behind?  

Should the student who begins with a B+ average and maintains the B+ average be assessed in the same way that a D student who improves to a C+?  If both students are doing the same work, assignments, quizzes and tests, the D student who demonstrated a greater improvement has probably done more actual learning. Should'nt that be rewarded?

In order for assessment to be authentic for the student, it must be a measure of learning rather than a measure of completion of work. The dilemma remains how to create authentic assessment that is about learning and not grades.    

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