By: Amy Cooper
What can we as educators unbundle from typical grading or the prominent practices of report cards we have happening… by making an important caveat: Are traditional assessments for young learners exclusive or discriminatory?
As a fact of educational assessment positioning, over the past three decades of typical progress reporting in public education, schools have been regularly assigning report cards, and standardized tests; yet, we as stake-holders often overlook the A-F or 1-3 rankings, we as educators, students and parents have little understanding of what these letters or numbers represent about a student’s mastery, competency, skill-base or growth (Thomas, 2017).
Consider the greater concern of what message these symbols of A-F or 1-4 mean to our students? Current research states that typical grades are so vague to our students, parents and even teachers they are near meaningless. Yet, we continue to carry on with these antique modes.
My research has begun to gather data to analyze the impact of typical report cards on students. The standard report cards were found to be: unmotivating, meaningless, and even harmful to student confidence. Meanwhile, micro-credentials; which show detailed experience and growth for students are showing promising results. Thus far, the research has proved that students, are self-motivated, growing in leaps and bounds, remaining engaged and closing the equity-gap. In a northeastern school district implementing digital badges, NWEA (a nationally normed test), showed improved skill bases in kindergarteners by more than 30%.
This emerging data is telling. When students are able to show their learning in dynamic ways that which is experience based and an authentic representation of student knowledge; children flourish. With alternative tools of assessment such as digital badges, students begin tackling specific goals at their level, children respond positively and attain more skills while gaining mastery.
If the American education domain is to provide opportunities and learning for students we need to consider our current status of evaluating students. Our students are the consumers of education. We ought to take a look at what the students in our education system need and desire. Are we promoting growth, mastery, opportunity and validating appropriate skills students are gaining?
P.L. Thomas (2017), professor of education (Furman University, Greenville, SC), is author of Beware the Roadbuilders and Trumplandia (Garn Press).