Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Assessments and Readiness

How can we help students to realize that their performance on a test, or any assessment, is not a value judgement on their worthiness as a human being, but simply an opportunity to strengthen neural connections? The preparation for an assessment, the anticipation of questions to answer or problems to solve, and then the pleasurable experience of getting the right answer, or the "Awww....!" of getting an incorrect answer (think of the studio audience on those game shows, they groan "Awww....!" but they don't condemn or ridicule).

Assessments should be experienced as a fun part of learning. Athletes know they must track their progress in order to improve. They also know the coach will not put them on the field if they are not ready. With language proficiency, the progress is often obvious to everyone except the learner. What if the teacher were able to wait and deliver the assessment only when they deem the student is ready? So the assessment can give them that perspective -- "Hey, look what I have been able to accomplish! Wow!"

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