Michigan Portfolios

Quotes Related to Assessment

“When the bird and the book disagree, always believe the bird.” -James Audubon

“Assessments either promote and support and support healthy development or they interfere with it.  The current high stakes state tests and the pressured one-shot writing exams present to be drawing a picture of the student.  But this picture leaves off the hands that could have been used to accomplish authentic tasks, and it leaves out the face that could have shown us the student’s personal needs and possibilities.” -Koch and Schwartz-Petterson

“A goal is to involve students in a method of critique that is precise and constructive, unlike the all-too-common ‘I like your story; it’s good.’  Recently, I learned about a useful metaphor for describing critique to students:  it is like surgery—opening up a piece, taking it apart, to discover what is working and what is not.  The surgical tools we have are words; the more deep and precise our vocabulary in the field, the more precise we can be at seeing and understanding the piece we are analyzing.  If our vocabulary is limited to ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ our surgical kit has only one tool; it’s like trying to do surgery with a cleaver—you can’t see or separate much of anything.  If a critique of a student’s story entails talk of dialogue, setting, scene-description, plot tension, foreshadowing, irony, character development, symbolism, metaphor, humor, and other components of fiction, there is a possibility that the workings of this story can be revealed, understood, and improved.  Critique of a science experiment is severely limited if students can’t speak in terms of hypothesis, method, control, variable, data observation, validity of results, significance of results.  These are more than words, they are concepts; they are lenses that allow us to see the work.” -Ron Berger