Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Here We Go Again

I have been reminded over the past several days that it is midterm season.  On the way into work several high schools have the midterm schedule posted on their electronic billboard.  Teachers have also shared commentary about the growing stress level amongst students. Like in previous years around this time I wonder why is this still happening.

Why is there a need to ratchet up the stress level, create alternative testing schedules and sacrifice learning for the sake of exam prep?  I have always felt there is something better we could be doing than adhering to the tradition of delivering midterm exams.  For instance, I wonder if this time could be used for students to actual reflect on the first part of the school year.  As opposed to cramming for a midterm exam could students spend time self-assessing progress since the start of school.  Instead of carving out large block of time to deliver and grade exams, could that time be used for students and teachers to convene to discuss the first half of the school year and for both parties to work towards establishing goals for the second part of the year.  Exchanges between students and teachers could stem from the examination of student work where collectively, a student and teacher(s) examine products that were part of a portfolio  Personally, this would seem like a far better use of time and result in a more accurate assessment of growth than the stress charged atmosphere caused by delivering an avalanche of assessments in a condensed period of time.