Assessment, School Community

Testing, testing . . .

My kids went to school in the early days of EQAO – the standardized testing program introduced in Ontario in 2002. There were many concerns and questions raised at that time, especially by parents of Grade 3 students. We worried about subjecting such young kids to a week of structured testing. Some parents considered pulling their children out of school for the week. Others were in favour of the tests. There was definitely tension in the air.

So it was refreshing to receive this cheery note from our son’s French Immersion teacher:

“Bonjour, parents! The children and I have planned our strategy for getting through the upcoming EQAO testing period:

Day 1: cookies

Day 2: popsicles

Day 3: popcorn . . .”

And so on. There was a party snack planned for each day of testing, and volunteers were sought to provide one of the designated snacks.

In these days of healthy nutrition awareness, that would probably no longer be allowed. But as a parent, I really appreciated that this teacher was making an effort to reduce the stress of her students’ first, rather intensive, experience with standardized tests and give them something fun to look forward to each day.

A decade later, standardized testing is entrenched, to one degree or another, across the country – but it is still controversial. In “Telling Time with a Broken Clock” (page 24), teacher and blogger Joe Bower takes a swing at the assumptions behind standardized test scores.

Of course, it’s the assessment that takes place in the classroom that affects students and teachers on a daily basis. Assessment of learning and assessment for learning are the warp and weft of classroom assessment, and this theme issue deals with both. In Robin Tierney’s “Fair Classroom Assessment” (page 20) and Anne Davies’ and Sandra Herbst’s “Co-Constructing Success Criteria” (page 16), you’ll find ideas that can be applied right away in any educational setting, while Kurtis Hewson and Jim Parsons offer a thoughtful reflection on setting effective school achievement goals (p. 9).

June, with its focus on final report cards and year-end assignments, is perhaps too full of assessment to allow much time to think about it! But we hope this issue will send you back to school in the fall with new plans for making your assessment practices more effective, all through the year.

Have a wonderful summer – we’ll be back with you, in September!

First published in Education Canada, June 2013

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Meet the Expert(s)

Holly Bennett

Holly Bennett

English Editor of Education Canada.

Holly Bennett is the English Editor of Education Canada.

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