One thing that Claire has done for me in this thread is validate my Language of the Trees articles, many of which have not yet been posted here, temporarily halted while the authentic assessment train went by (and still continues like on those long Illinois Central trains).
I am very interested in the idea presented in Language of the Trees – 1 post about how just cultivating a class culture of listening to and respecting each other can move the assessment piece forward to a higher place. I feel that is the place to look for the change we seek in the way we assess.
In the lower places of the past, kids have had to, by the millions, walk into a language class and immediately assume a mantle of being smart, or kind of smart, or just plain stupid when it comes to language. That all comes from the way they are assessed, not just from the way they are taught.
If a teacher/district ends the year with a barrage of tests that convey to the child, who may not have developed the most wonderful listening skills in the world at the age of 14, that they “can be wrong” (only got 61 questions out of 100 correct) or “can be right” (got all 100 questions right) then it just goes downhill from there. It is not a service to tell a kid that they are smarter than someone else every day.
It just goes downhill when we test and rank and rate and brand. The kid is not invited into a civil behavior that reflects a kind focus from the teacher, an awareness that is moment by moment humane and inviting, where the kid can be right where they are in the story, right where they are in life and not be shamed because they don’t measure up to something absurd – the idea that the conscious mind is even in charge of language acquisition and so can be measured in terms of what it has attained.