Friday, August 14, 2015

Why Aren't We All On The Same Page?

     As we gear up to go back to school I've seen a lot of blog posts and Twitter conversations about assessment at schools. Specifically, how do you organize your assessment vs. your colleagues/another school/another district/etc. I've read a lot of posts in this topic before and it always made me think about my own personal views of assessment and, as a result, I've changed aspects to better represent my understanding of fair and appropriate assessment.

teaching in a fishbowl, fair assessment in high school, assessment practices, assessment conversations
Unknown Title. (Accessed 2015). Uploaded by Vera Teschow. Available online at:

     Lately, however, these posts have not been making me think about my own views of assessment; they have been making me angry that we are not on the same page regarding assessment. Now, I know that the collective "we" is an immense amount of people so lets take it down to a smaller and more manageable population (for now). My school only has seven teachers who teach high school classes. Now shouldn't the seven of us be on the same page when it comes to assessment?? On a more simple note, shouldn't we at least sit down and have a conversation regarding assessment so we can begin to understand each other? It seems odd that we don't follow similar assessment practices and that a student can receive 10% of their mark from creativity/effort from one teacher while another only ever assesses curriculum outcomes.

teaching in a fishbowl, fair assessment in high school, assessment practices, assessment conversations
Education Cartoon #6470. (Accessed 2015). Uploaded to Andertoons by Mark Anderson. Available online at:

     Now don't get me wrong, its not like our school does not address assessment. We talk about formative and summative assessment, assessing a student's most recent understanding, how to best document understanding, etc but we don't talk about the specific assessment practices of each teacher. While we don't talk about it, I know our students do. Here are just some of the questions/issues/concerns I've heard from students over the past two years in regards to assessment practices:

1 ) How come you never include a spot on the rubric for creativity?

2 ) Can I do a retest?

3 ) Group work isn't fair because (insert student name here) never does anything.

4 ) I found this assignment from (month's ago) can I still hand it in?

5 ) We only have to reference work in your class.

6 ) Is this for marks? If not, do I have to do it?

7 ) Can you add on bonus marks?

     I know for a fact that these were brought up because my assessment practices didn't match what my students had seen in one of their other classes. If students are noticing a problem, why aren't we doing anything about it?

     Justin Tarte wrote two straight-forward blog posts on assessment that I thought were great for getting the conversation started:
- 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving an Assessment
- 10 Questions to Help Start the Grading Conversation at Your School


Does your school have school-wide or grade-group conversations about assessment practices/policies? If so, are they helpful?


  1. Agreed. I see the same thing, both as a teacher and as a parent. But isn't the responsibility of school administration to know how everyone runs their class and see that there is consistency?

    1. I agree that assessment is a topic that should be addressed by school administration; especially because I am in favour of an entire school being consistent. I do believe, however, that teachers should attempt to discuss assessment among themselves and come up with a subject/grade-level plan if they recognize that there is a discrepancy.