The Whole Truth…

I had the opportunity to talk about assessment with a group of elementary school teachers earlier this week.  Our discussion focused on scoring, with particular emphasis on the scoring of constructed response items similar to those that appear on many state assessments.  In Colorado, there exists a set of holistic rubrics for this purpose.  They are sound, but require some understanding of what is being measured to be used effectively.  We also talked about preassessment – why and how to preassess kids.  This topic is better suited for a later post.

Knowing that this presentation was looming on the horizon, I had been on the lookout for assessment-related ideas anywhere I could find them.  So last Saturday, while enjoying a Shrekmarathon with my wife and kids, I found what was looking for.  In the first movie, Shrek overhears Fiona lamenting about her ugliness and thinks she is talking about him.  Dejected (he had just worked up his courage to express his undying love), Shrek walks off into the night.

I showed this one-minute segment to teachers.  Then I made my point: when it comes to assessing student learning, be sure

  1. you have the whole picture; and
  2. you have the right picture.

Sometimes, whether observing students working or scoring an assessment, it is easy to miss the big picture or to only get a part of the picture.  If we use assessment data to guide our instruction, but we’re working with an incorrect or incomplete picture, then our instruction will miss the mark. 

So next time you think assessment, think Shrek – and get the whole picture the first time.

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