Read CEJ Online

December 2013

Eight Big Ideas about Assessment and Grading: Putting the Focus Back on Learning

I first became aware of the power of big ideas in an educational context during an early ’90s visit with colleagues to Grant Wiggins’s Center for Learning, Assessment, and School Supervision. This was some years before the publication of Wiggins’s seminal work, cowritten with Jay McTighe, Understanding By Design. As we debriefed the session upon […]

Restoring Peer and Self-Assessment

In 2007, Elaine Brouwer unpacked some important ideas on assessment in the pages of the Christian Educators Journal. It was a remarkable article. One concept from that article has remained front-of-mind for me over the years: Assessment is best done with students, and when it is, it can be a blessing. The idea of assessment […]

Assessment Obsession and Evaluation Idolization

When educational policy makers first caught assessment fever from the business world some twenty years ago, like many teachers, I assumed it would pass as so many educational trends do. Instead, it has hung on and grown and grown, to the point that educational assessment has become a mega-business for corporate conglomerates like Pearson, who […]

Shifting from the “Bucket-o-Points” to “Big Ideas” Assessment

The idea of assigning a letter as a way to measure student learning is kind of bizarre if you really think about it. The trouble is, we don’t usually think about it. We accept this as a “normal” part of school because it’s such a common practice that it feels normal, right? So I ask you […]

Developing Self-Assessment through Project-Based Learning

Well-developed self-assessment skills are not only a vital tool for improving student learning, but also a lifelong tool for growth beyond the school. When students practice peer assessment, they become more skilled at critiquing in general and, by extension, better at self-critique. I believe that project-based learning provides rich opportunities for developing students’ assessment skills […]

Effective Assessment Practices: Tools that Lead to Learning

As long as there have been schools, teachers have been in the business of assessing student work. Do we have a common working definition of assessment for today? Why and how do we do this? Is there value for us and for the students in this activity? What does assessment look like in a professional […]

Assessment, Evaluation, and Gardens

“I remember the first time that a grading rubric was attached to a piece of my writing. . . . Suddenly all the joy was taken away. I was writing for a grade—I was no longer exploring for me. I want to get that back. Will I ever get that back?”   Claire, a student […]

A Little Box of Leadership

This semester, our students, funded by a state grant, have been asked to focus on the knotty term “leadership,” as in “teacher leader.” It’s one of those topics we all think we know a lot about, and in a way, we do. We can certainly recognize the broad outlines of it, but the specifics are […]

Assessment Practices: Encouraging or Damaging?

Our discussion for this month began with the following prompt from John Walcott: Assessment and evaluation practices are an everyday part of life in schools. We know that helping students reflect on their work can be an important part of the learning process. Therefore, how teachers think about and practice assessment and evaluation in their […]

Grading for Dummies, or A Confederacy of Rubrics

Dressed in a three-piece, charcoal gray pinstriped suit, Rex Kane squirmed in his chair at the head of the table. He fidgeted restlessly with the bold red silk tie he had chosen in the belief that it lent him an air of credibility. Before him sat Bedlam Christian High School’s curriculum committee, an august group […]