Assessment to a Seven Year Old

I thought since it was Friday I’d share something a little lighter than yesterday’s post. Not that the notion of assessment is a topic to be taken lightly … it is critical to everything we do in education — at every phase of the game. One thing I’ve noticed is that people all have notions about assessment that they are usually willing to share. Questions like, do you believe in grades? Mastery learning? Tests? Authentic assessment? Almost always get people talking. Wherever you are you can get a discussion going with people about assessment. I think it is because it is so personal and is tied to our lasting memories of school at various levels. With that in mind I thought I’d talk to someone who is relatively new to the assessment world. My seven year old daughter.

My daughter and I have done several podcasts in the past — we call them MaddieCasts. I guess they aren’t really podcasts as I’ve never posted any, but regardless of semantics we’ve taken the time to sit down and capture some thoughts over the last few years in digital format. I always enjoy what we come up with and the other night was no different. I decided to go ahead and post this episode because it is right in the middle of lots of stuff I am thinking about.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I am taking a course on assessment (INSYS 522) … in this course we are exploring lots of things, but we spent time in the first week focusing on the ideas of grades and testing. We’ve moved beyond these concepts, but I have to say that these first conversations made me wonder what it all means to a first grader. Talking about these things brought back lots of my own memories of early school experiences, so I decided I’d engage my little girl in a discussion about these topics. With that in mind I sat down with my seven year old first grade daughter last night to explore these notions. I was interested to hear from someone who is yet to be totally jaded by the educational environment about her view of tests, grades, and school in general. Hearing it from her mouth is a wonderful way of staying connected to the realities of teaching and learning — and what she had to say was a little surprising.

I have to wonder what are your reactions to concepts like grades, tests, and mastery? What are the two things you like and dislike about school? Funny how much assessment plays into even a seven year old mind.

MaddieCast for February 2009.

7 thoughts on “Assessment to a Seven Year Old

  1. Talk about openness all you want, but those words are meaningless compared to this. Absolutely wonderful. I hope you can snag her for a regular feature.

  2. Great stuff. What a darling idea. I’ve had these types of discussions with some of my kids, but never thought to record them…I see a copycat experience in the works. Thx.
    -Joel G.

  3. @joel galbraith Thanks, Joel! They are always a lot of fun and you never know what is going to come out of her mouth. The ones from a couple of years ago are so much fun to go back and listen to.

  4. Wow. What an articulate young lady. I enjoyed her thoughts on assessment. They reminded me that it’s not necessarily the assessments that kids come to dislike, it’s the use that’s made of the data. Grades are not terribly painful for strong students who are labeled as being at the top (like Maddie) but they don’t feel so good for the “BBs” of the world. Thanks for sharing this fun moment with us! What a great kid!

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