Thursday, 7 June 2012

Assess this!

Assessment time again...

Yes - like most of the rest of the teachers on the planet, we are in "assessment mode" right now. Not to say that we don't do continual formative assessment on a daily basis but when the time comes to write reports, we crank out the formal summative tools (ie. pencil and paper tests) just to check our suspicions about our kids. 

And here's a response I got from one of my darlings...

The Task

So the task at hand was to re-write a number in words. Not too much of a challenge, I agree, and probably more to do with Literacy than Numeracy but hey, if you're going to play with numbers you probably should know how to write them. 

I was factoring in some room to maneuver with the spelling (hence the request to "give the spelling your best shot") and therefore I was prepared to accept "threety" as a confused version of "thirty".

But..."two"? He'd got the hard bit - "Sixty five thousand one hundred and..." part right. But what to do with the "two" bit?

At first I gave it a tick - he obviously knew about place value, which was my main concern. His spelling was pretty good. He had things in the right order. Tick - can write 5-digit number in words.

Then hang on, thinks I. The number he wrote is not the number I wanted to read. So it's a fail on the fact that he has communicated a different number. Getting this wrong can have huge consequences.

Writing "4" as "two" might be the difference between getting back from the moon or spending the rest of your days orbiting some distant celestial body. 
A mistake like that might cost your company billions in the next global financial meltdown. 

Or if you were expecting the Fantastic Four and only two of them turned up.

Or you went to see the Fab Four and there was only John and Ringo.

So I gave it a cross.

Then I consulted a respected colleague, Capitano Amazing, in the room next door. He was all for giving the cross and marking it wrong.


I now have this problem because I wasn't explicit enough in my own mind about what I was assessing; I am unresolved when I get a student response that only partially fulfills my expectations.

Note to self...

In future - design assessment activities that are going to be measured using well-articulated learning intentions. 

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