Assessments are Stupid

There. I’ve said it. I’ve always thought it, but now I’ve said it. File this under posts-I-hope-my-supervisor-doesn’t-see. And because I think that assessments are stupid, I don’t give tests very often. Now it’s time to post my grades.  Oops. It doesn’t meant that I don’t give tests, but I try to give other forms of assessments. I LOVE Google Communities. They’re like academic Facebook. If a student posts, that’s an assessment to me.

However, there is no category in our gradebook for “Google Community Posts and Comments.”  There is no category for the fact that the notification on my phone went off around midnight last night because a student who lives alone and has to work 2 jobs to support himself read and commented on a post because he was interested enough, and was on his phone, at midnight. His comment was awesome. The English needed some work, but it was one of those sentences where I learned from him. That sentence should get an A.

Another reason I think assessments are stupid is because when grading them, it often turns out that my questions were more of the problem then their answers. How do you grade something when the questions aren’t phrased well? Or can be interpreted more than one way? “Teacher gets a C- for poorly written questions.”

It’s hard for ELLs (I hate that abbreviation. I prefer ESL kids) to memorize definitions. But why should they? Isn’t it just important that they know what they mean? We are currently studying literary techniques and elements in my Intermediate ESL English class. On a test, I asked for the definition of symbolism. Then, in song lyrics, they had to explain the symbolism of a few different lines of the song. To me lyrics=poetry and I find it more interesting to throw a song in occasionally. So why should the student who can’t memorize the definition of symbolism get a lower grade than one who can, although his explanation of lines of the song perhaps shows more insight and perspective than a student who can rote memorize? Answer? Assessments are stupid.

About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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14 Responses to Assessments are Stupid

  1. oumarsarr says:

    Grades! 0-100 or the capping of students’ potential! You are totally right Elizabeth, and your supervisor should read this! For the sake of data only, your English Language Learners along with their rich cultures, their background knowledge and potential to grow are forced into the Procrustean bed of formal assessment.They all become numbers at the end of the day… We might as well assign them bar codes so you can scan them in and out every year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patty Dann says:

    wise words to help people really learn and possibly enjoy it on the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Barb Knowles says:

    Reblogged this on saneteachers and commented:

    This post wasn’t written very long ago, but we’ve just finished week one of the absolutely insane NYSESLAT State exam for esl kids. I’m totally wiped out so imagine how they feel. Which brings me to why I think…


  4. Mama says:

    Agree wholeheartedly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I wish more people would see it this way. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, yes,yes!!! Chasing numbers in the name of assessment is really stupid. But schools all over the world do it. Academic push is the rave. I got quite mad and a little perturbed when my 4 yo came back with homework EVERYDAY and extra sheets for the weekends too. 4 year old! *groooowl*

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Annie Emmy Evans says:

    Yes, Yes, YES.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Paul says:

    I can’t even tell you how many tests I had (at all levels) where they asked for the definition of words and if you didn’t get the definition word for word, then it was wrong. So ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      And it’s getting worse. I’m sure Canada is doing what the U.S. is doing. .. unmerciless testing. If I’m getting bored and not having fun, imagine how it is for the kids. You don’t have to go too far back to remember, Paul. Word for word….crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Lessons would literally be powerpoint slides with a bunch of definitions on them. The teacher would always tell us not to copy down every single word and we’re all thinking, “we know this is going to be on the test and we need to get it word for word, LEAVE US ALONE” haha or maybe that’s just the thought I had.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        Lol maybe. I always tell my students “Dont copy, think!” And they look at like, oh sure, that will work out for us.

        Liked by 1 person

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