Monday, April 30, 2012

Newest Ed Reform Leader is a 12-Year-Old Opt Out Hero

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

We’ve heard from a lot of heroes lately in the ed reform movement; from teachers and  parents like Chris Cerrone and Renny Fong who are stepping forward and sharing their struggles, to principals who are standing up and speaking out against the standardized testing debacle.

These are ed reform heroes. These are the people who will help empower our children with the freedom to learn; the ones who push for an education that is customized to the child rather than standardized to the system.

While these parents, teachers, and school leaders push for students’ rights to receive the education they deserve (rather than the ones politicians and corporations want), there is yet another important voice bubbling up.  

The newest heroes of the ed reform movement are the students who opt out and speak out. Their voices are both loud and proud. They are against tests that they know do not benefit them, and in many cases actually do them harm.

While there are adults who believe the education system pulls the wool over the eyes of children, many young people are also becoming wise to the standardized testing farce. Last year 5th grader Joel from Harlem wrote an essay exposing the truth about standardized testing  Then 12-year-old Anthony Hererra made a video and wrote an article explaining why he doesn’t want to take the test and thanking everyone for their support of his decision.  

Our latest hero is 12-year-old Joseph Dougherty who did his best to opt out of the standardized tests. He knows they are useless for children in general, but he has also discovered they are harmful to him in particular. They cause stress and anxiety, which leads to emotional and physical distress.  As a result Joseph’s mom informed his school principal that he would be opting out of the test and asked that he be provided with alternative activities during all the days of testing. Against the wishes of this young man and his mother, his principal, Thomas Capone, forced Joseph to take the test.

When Joseph explained he did not want to take the test, his teachers called him “a fresh little boy who needs to do what he is told.” He also knew his principal wrote an email to his mother explaining that if he didn't follow orders, he could be taken away from his mother because he'd call child protective services.

So, Joseph was coerced into doing something that he and his mother knew was wrong.

The principal and his staff will tell you that they’re “just doing their jobs.” They’ve washed their hands of any wrongdoing after forcing Joseph to comply to school orders. This despite the fact that even the enforcers, as professionals, should know these tests are wrong.

These teachers dutifully carry out their orders, even following the directions now included with the tests on how to handle their charges when they cry or are vomiting.  

Fortunately, Joseph knows that those who are trying to harm him are followers who are just enforcing somebody else's rules; rules driven by politicians without teaching credentials and corporate interests who stand to make billions off their data extraction work. (Yes, it is possible to be honest with children about the reality of the adult world. It won’t hurt them and it often helps!)

“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.”

Joseph took the test. He followed orders. He had no choice. However, young Joseph could take some comfort as he sat in under fluorescent light in the testing room, doing what adults, who should know better, forced him to do.

Here’s why.
  • He knows he is not fresh.
    He is a respectful young man.
  • He knows he is not opting out of the test because he’s taking the easy way.
    He wants to learn, not memorize and regurgitate.
  • He knows he is not a coward.
    He is a courageous young man that is not afraid to stand up and speak up about what he wants and what is right.

Most importantly, Joseph knows he is not a follower. He is a natural-born leader who already realizes that being a follower and blindly doing what you are told may make you a “success” in school, but it is not what makes for a success in life.

Joseph Dougherty wants to give the most important members of the opt out movement a voice and a face. He wants you to know his name because he knows he is a part of the movement to empower students with the freedom to learn what is meaningful. That indeed means moving ahead to a time where we don’t prepare compliant widgets to perform on the assembly line, but instead free-thinking individuals who reach for the limitless potential inside them. 

“We must become the change we want to see in the world.”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Get Going with the New Wifitti for Educators!!!

By Lisa Nielsen and Willyn Webb

Wiffiti seems to have gone wild (see email below) this month!  We (Lisa Nielsen/Willyn Webb) were panicked that we would no longer be able to use a great cell phone tool.  Having students (and staff) text into Wiffiti boards has made many classes and meetings more fun, more productive, and enhanced learning.  However, after emailing LocaModa and calming down a little, there are ways that educators can still utilize Wiffiti by having students text in their responses to questions, their ideas during a brainstorm, reflective thoughts, questions, and comments IF they have an email ending in .edu .k12.*.us and in response to my (Lisa Nielsen) request, has been added for the 80,000+ educators in New York City. Here's the email outlining the new features.
Thanks for requesting access to wiffiti beta.
We're ready for you to check it out! Please visit 

to sign up for a new account*!

So what's new?
  • Simplified user interface - Create a board in fewer steps
  • Twitter photos - Instagram,, yFrog, TwitPic, Lockerz and more
  • Footer & Header - Add a simple single line call to action like "My Class" or "tweet #locamoda"
  • Private boards - All boards are private by default -- the owner controls sharing
  • EdTech Version- Verified .edu and k12.*.us accounts gain access to exclusive features
New features will be added on a regular basis and your feedback improves the product road map!
*new account required.

We replied to the announcement email and asked if we could still text into wiffiti boards.  According to Greg Stellato, "Yes! Teachers can still create boards that have text messaging enabled. We are working on a way for teachers that don't have .edu and k12.*.us email addresses to gain access to the EdTech version." 

So for those of you who do not have these types of emails, be patient, share this on the feedback link, and hopefully the EdTech version will be available to you soon.  For those of you with these types of emails, just get a new account and start using Wiffiti again, much as you did before.  

For those of you with these types of emails who are new to Wiffiti, here are some steps to get started and some ideas to enhance your students' learning with Wiffiti.

2.  Sign up for a NEW account even if you've had an account in the past.
3.  Use an email ending in .edu or .k12.*.us that you can then check to verify the account.
4.  Check your email, click on the link, and you are ready to go.

The Create a New Board looks like this:

Here are a couple of ideas for using the EdTech Version of Wiffiti with students starting Today!
  • After sharing information in class (via video, lecture, or reading) have students respond with thoughts, questions, or answer specific questions via text.  Display the results on the screen as the come to class the next day and you've kept the interaction with the material going.  There is no need to regroup or review.  Start with students enjoying the replies from their classmates as they move across the screen and when the bell rings you are ready to go!
  • When asking hard or personal questions use a Wiffiti, the answers are anonymous.  For example, after reading a thought provoking poem or piece of literature, ask reaction questions such as, "What were Horatio's motives?" and allow students to use their phones to text in their answers right there in class.  They will be amazed as the answers show up on the screen.  EVERY student will have a voice and EVERY student's answer will be displayed for all to read.  Even the most shy, self-conscious student will get to share.  The discussion will be enriched and all students will be engaged.
  • Use a weekly Wiffiti for "Shout Outs" to share praises, allow questions, and gain feedback.  On Fridays it is fun to allow students the opportunity to reflect (appropriately) by sharing on a Wiffiti.  This takes no class time as students text in on their own time and the Wiffiti board is show before the bell rings.  This makes good use of down time, offers students a safe way to share, and gives the teacher a way to provide recognition where all can see it without the time it would take to make an announcement, send a letter home, or make a phone call.  
The new Wiffiti is more Twitter friendly and has many new options.  Check it out at  

For more on using Wiffiti, check out Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Hottest Posts That Everyone is Talking About This Week on The Innovative Educator!

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog this week. Below you’ll see the top weekly posts along with the number of pageviews. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired, share it with others and/or leave a comment.
Apr 22, 2012, 10 comments                      5,232 Pageviews
Apr 23, 2012, 4 comments                           3853 Pageviews
Apr 25, 2012, 2 comments                           2653 Pageviews
Apr 26, 2012, 5 comments                           2096 Pageviews
Apr 24, 2012, 2 comments                           1947 Pageviews
Apr 19, 2012, 130 comments                     1,798 Pageviews
Apr 3, 2011, 11 comments                       1,599 Pageviews
Jul 15, 2010, 21 comments                          1297 Pageviews

Friday, April 27, 2012

Is there such thing as a good test?

Editor’s Note: By now most people understand that standardized tests are not only harmful, but often they are also poorly constructed. But is there such thing as a good test? I was having a conversation with Cathy Earle about the subject and wondered if there is such thing as a good test. During that conversation she explained the reality is that in many cases the problem is how tests are used i.e. to assess students rather than help them learn. I asked her to say more and provide and example. Here it is and I have to admit...I rather like this kind of test.

Guest post by Cathy Earle

My daughter took a class at a local museum, the Youth Science Center. The class was a few hours each day for five days, and it was all about snakes.

The teacher introduced the first class with the words, “We're going to take a pre-test, to see how much you guys know about snakes already.” Then he passed out a multiple-choice test.

The thing is, my child never took multiple-choice tests, except a few fun quizzes in magazines. She unschools, and we didn't do lessons and assignments and tests.

Still, she gamely filled out the test and did her best.

Her best turned out to be the worst in the class.

Well, that's how it seemed. The teacher had the kids correct their own pre-tests, and he went through each test item, explaining the correct answer and WHY that was the correct answer. In a way, with 30 questions on the test, he was giving 30 little mini-lessons on snakes.

After he completed the test review, the teacher asked the kids to raise their hands if they got every answer right, then 1 to 5 wrong, 6 to 10 wrong, and so on.

And, as I said, my kid was the one with her hand up at the end—she had the worst score in the class (or, perhaps, was the most honest one self-correcting and self-reporting!).

The teacher said to her, “You won the prize!” And he gave her the molted, empty, translucent skin of a snake—one whole, shimmering, flawless piece. Everyone else oohed and aahed in envy, and the teacher continued, “Because you will learn the most in this class.”

Then the teacher gave an assignment: he asked the students to give the test to a parent or older sibling or friend, and explain the answers to them as he just had.

(Note: Since this was a museum class, there was going to be no punishment if a child didn't do the assignment. The teacher didn't record the scores of the pre-test. There would be no grade on the children's permanent record. The class was designed for fun and learning.)

My child loved the idea of giving us the test. I took it as soon as she came home, and I found it pretty challenging. I knew more answers than my daughter had, but I have to admit, I thought I knew some things that I was just plain wrong about. I was amazed as my daughter reported all the correct answers and why those answers were correct: she went on and on, and she seemed to know SO MUCH about the topic already! I definitely learned some things that day, too.

My parents came over, and my daughter relished two more subjects for her test. After they took the test, she went through all of the explanations again. I took a few minutes to do some research in some books (this was pre-Google), and every fact I could check was correct.

My husband came home from work, where he teaches high school Biology. When my daughter proudly showed him her perfect snake skin, his eyes lit up. But when she told him how she won the prize, his face fell. He got very doubtful about what we were doing—unschooling was ruining our child's chances for success, he was sure, and the low score on this test confirmed it.

“No, it's a really hard test,” I told him.

“I want to give you the test,” my daughter said to him. “I already gave it to Mom and Papa and Grandma.”

“Well, I'm a Biology teacher,” my husband protested. “I'll know it all.”

“Oh, no, you won't,” I promised.

My husband took the test and scored about as low as my daughter, then listened in astonishment as she filled him in on all the correct answers and explanations. I think he was mostly amazed that she already knew so much about snakes and reptiles and cold-blooded organisms.

I admire this use of a paper-and-pencil test because it taught so much about the subject matter, but it also taught kids to self-correct and report honestly, it taught that there is no shame in not knowing something, and it taught kids that a great way to understand something well is to teach it.

Cathy Earle is an educator who has worked in public schools and a variety of private venues. She has been a curriculum lab director, a managing editor at an education publishing house, and a freelance education writer working for such clients as The Learning Company, Orange County Department of Education, and Disney Software. She homeschooled her own children from birth to college, using child-led and interest-based methods rather than formal academic teaching. Her daughters are now grown and successful.  Her blog for children, Every Day Is Special, can be found at

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Suffering in Silence… Standardized testing from the view of an educator & parent

Guest post by Renny Fong (TimeOutDad)

As our children are undergoing the gruel of the high stakes standardized tests in New York, I can’t help but notice the silence.  So many voices silenced.  So many stories left unheard.  Will all the time, money, and effort that has been spent on making the tests, preparing for the tests, and grading the tests make our children any better off than before these tests?  

Did these tests ask our children how they’re doing, how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking, and what they care about?  Did these tests ask our children to innovate or create anything? Will these tests tell our children what their gifts and talents are?  Will these tests tell us what our children’s hopes and goals and dreams are or what their ideas are for a better today and tomorrow? Do these tests really care about our children at all?

Instead of asking questions and finding solutions to real problems, our children are asked to answer questions that have only one pre-determined (and sometimes, quite a debatable) answer.  Instead of sharing about their own lives and experiences, our children are asked to give examples and details from something they most likely have no real connection with.  Instead of developing their own voices, our children are being asked to give their audience (the “graders”) what they want to hear.  Instead of looking at what our children can do, they're punished for what they can’t do.   

When it’s all over, instead of getting feedback on how they did and how what they could have done better, they’ll be given a number that’s supposed to mean something...  everything.  That one number will label them as below grade level, on grade level, or above grade level.  That one number will determine whether they can read or write or think.   That one number will determine whether they’re “good enough” or “smart enough” to move up or move on.  There’s so much focus on this one piece of data that doesn’t even come close to giving us the story behind the mind of each and every child.  This is the reality that has been given to them.
Who are we listening to and whom are we learning from? 
Renny Fong has been an educator for over 15 years, teaching pre-kindergarten through fifth grade; he currently teaches technology.  His wife and his five-year-old son are his biggest joy and inspiration.  He started his blog, TimeOutDad, in September 2009.  You can follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New York Principals are Speaking Out Against Standardized Tests

This week I'm proud to be a New York educator as I watch parents, teachers, and administrators stand up and speak out about the harms and horrors of standardized tests in the media as well as the active Opt Out of Standardized Tests - New York group.  Below is an open letter from New York principals who want their voices heard about the testing atrocities going on in our schools.  If you are in New York, show this letter to your principal and encourage her/him to advocate for children.

An Open Letter to the Board of Regents Regarding High-Stakes Testing and the School Reform Agenda of New York State


The past week has been a nightmare for New York students in Grades 3 through 8, their teachers and their principals. Not only were the New York State ELA exams too long and exhausting for young students, (three exams of 90 minutes each), they contained ambiguous questions that cannot be answered with assurance, problems with test booklet instructions, inadequate space for students to write essays, and reading comprehension passages that defy commonsense. In addition, the press reported a passage that relied on knowledge of sounds and music which hearing-impaired students could not answer and Newsday reported that students were mechanically ‘filling in bubbles’ due to exhaustion. Certainly the most egregious example of problems with the tests is the now infamous passage about the Hare and the Pineapple.
On Friday, Commissioner King offered no apologies in what appeared to be a hastily written press release regarding the Hare and the Pineapple passage. In that release, Commissioner King faults the media for not printing the complete passage (many did), and passes the buck by noting that a committee of teachers reviewed the passage. In short, he distances the State Education Department from its responsibility to get the tests right. Considering the rigor and length of the exams, as well as their use in the evaluation of educators and schools, one might have hoped that the State Education Department and Pearson would have reviewed the tests with more care.
For many of us, however, this is but the latest bungle in the so-called school reform movement in New York State. More than 1400 New York State principals have repeatedly begged the department to slow down, pilot thoughtful change and avoid using student test scores as high-stakes measures. The recent ELA test debacle was foreseeable to those of us who lead schools and know from experience that you cannot make so many drastic changes to curriculum, assessment and educator evaluation in a short period of time, especially without listening to those who lead schools.  The literature on leadership is clear. Effective leadership is about the development of followership. If truth be told, however, there are fewer and fewer followers of this State Education Department every day.  The Pineapple, like the ‘plane being built in the air’, is now a symbol of the careless implementation of a reform agenda that will cost billions of dollars, without yielding the promised school improvement.
There are many who disparage our public schools in New York State.  Although we acknowledge that improvements are needed, there is also much of which we are proud. We are proud of our tradition of New York State Regents examinations.  We are proud that New York State students are second in the nation in taking Advanced Placement exams. We are proud of our Intel winners and the number of New York high schools on national lists of excellence. We are proud that our schools are second in the nation according to a comprehensive analysis of policy and performance conducted by the research group, Quality Counts.
We also know that too many of our schools are racially and socio-economically isolated with overwhelming numbers of students who receive little opportunity and support in their communities as well as in their schools. We cannot ignore deep-seated social problems while blindly believing that new tests, data warehousing systems and unproven evaluation systems are the answer. That view, in our opinion, is irresponsible and unethical.
This ill-conceived Race to the Top, recently critiqued by the National School Boards Association, is no more sensible than the race of the Hare and the Pineapple.  Yet the New York State Education Department continues to enthusiastically push its agenda. Our schools are faced with contradictory and incomplete directives regarding high-stakes testing and evaluation, our teachers are humiliated by the thought of publicized evaluation numbers and our students are stressed by the unnecessary testing that has consumed precious learning time.
We understand that change is important for school revitalization. We have years of collective experience successfully leading educational improvement in our schools, often as partners with the State Education Department. Unfortunately, our voices have been ignored and marginalized during the past year. Nevertheless, we believe that we have an ethical obligation to speak out. It is often said about educational change that it is a pendulum that swings. We are now watching the pendulum of school reform swing dangerously, and we fear that this time it is a wrecking ball aimed at the public schools we so cherish.
The following principals respectfully submit this open letter to the New York State Board of Regents:
Anna Allanbrook, Brooklyn New School, New York City Public Schools
Carol Burris,South Side High School, Rockville Centre School District
Gail Casciano,Nassakeag Elementary School, Three Village Central School District
Carol Conklin-Spillane,Sleepy Hollow High School, Tarrytowns School District
Sean Feeney,The Wheatley School, East Williston School District
Sharon Fougner,Elizabeth Mellick Baker School, Great Neck School District
Andrew Greene,Candlewood Middle School, Half Hollow Hills Central School District
Bernard Kaplan,Great Neck North High School, Great Neck School District
Harry Leonardatos,Clarkstown High School, Clarkstown Central School District
Michael McDermott, Scarsdale Middle School, Scarsdale School District
Shelagh McGinn,South Side Middle School, Rockville Centre School District
Sandra Pensak, Hewlett Elementary School, Hewlett-Woodmere School District
Elizabeth Phillips,PS 321 William Penn, New York City Public Schools
Donald Sternberg, Wantagh Elementary School, Wantagh Public Schools
Katie Zahedi, Linden Avenue Middle School, Red Hook Central Schools

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Inform Others of the Harm of Standardized Tests with This Flyer

We are finally reaching a time when parents are standing up for the rights of their children and opting out of tests. Social media has played a great role in this where parents are able to find others from their state who are doing the same thing they are and also discover and share information and resources at sites like the Opt Out of Standardized Tests wiki. They are uniting and getting smarter about their parental right to decide what is best for their children.

Many even are stepping up and spreading the word. To that end, I have created the following double-sided, informational flyer that can be customized and simply printed out from any printer.  Hand it out in front of your school. To your school's principal, teachers etc. Sadly, many teachers and administrators know what they are being forced to do is hurting children, but if they speak up they risk losing their jobs.  They need parents and community members to do this work!

You can see the flyer below and visit and download it here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The bad pineapple questions are not the problem with standardized tests

I am disappointed that the mainstream story about testing happens to be a poor test section about pineapples. While I agree the test question was ridiculous, I think focusing on that diverts us from the real problem which is that even if the test had greatest questions on earth, standardized testing at its core is a problem for numerous reasons.

Here are a dozen that come to mind.
1) Teachers are assessment experts. We don't need to spend 32 million on outsourcing assessments in NY alone. Billions nationwide.
2) If we believe we should differentiate instruction, then we can not standardize assessment. We must measure students where they are at.
3) Standardized tests are one of the least effective forms of diagnostic assessment.
4) Standardized tests don't provide any value to students.

5) Standardized tests have very little to do with instruction and much more to do with developmental readiness, parental involvement, student interest, test taking comfort, socio economic status.
6) Standardized tests subject students to unnecessary stress.
7) Standardized tests don't measure skills that are relevant for the 21st century.
8) Standardized tests assess in artificial, disconnected environments which is the exact opposite of what our children will need for success. 

9) Standardized tests aren't created by teachers. They are created off of people who profit off of children.
10) Standardized tests are not used to inform instruction. Teachers use meaningful assessments that are customized to children, not standardized to the system to accomplish that.
11) Standardized tests are not used to help children learn. They are used to punish students, teachers, and schools. 
12) Standardized test are making many children sick.

When we focus on the content of the atrocity of standardized tests rather than the fact that they shouldn’t exist, we are losing focus. It is as though we are trying to build a better torture chamber rather than stopping the use of something that is helping no one but the mega billion dollar publishing companies and elected officials who like pretty graphs.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

9 Ways to Assess without Standardized Tests

Caine's Arcade
You don't assess innovation with bubbletests


You got the message. 

Standardized tests are not what's best for learning. Not only are they not best for learning, but they have become an insurmountable obstacle for innovative educators like me to do my work in schools because helping kids become good and filling in bubbles on a piece of paper is anything but innovative!

Unfortunately, many politicians, parents, and even students don’t know a world without testing and wonder...

“If we don't use standardized tests how will we measure learning, teacher effectiveness, or school effectiveness?”
When people ask me that question, I usually respond with this question:
“How do we assess learning in real life?”
Think about it, learning is rarely measured via a test in real life. For instance, as a educator I had to take a few meaningless tests that no one bothers studying for more than a decade ago but that's it. A few tests 15 years ago and not another test is required the rest of my career. Our elected officials who often impose these tests upon children so they can claim they care about learning don't take tests. My Dad who was a cinematographer never took a test. My boyfriend who is in sales doesn't take tests. My girlfriend who is a professional photographer doesn’t take tests. My best friend who owns a successful fundraising business doesn’t take tests. The reality is that for most of us, success in life has little to do with how well we can fill in bubbles.

School life, needs to take a look at real life measurement tools and consider making the school world, look more like the real world with meaningful and authentic assessment. In short, we should measure individuals by how well they do stuff rather than how well they do the meaningless work of memorize, regurgitate, and fill in bubbles on demand.

9 Ways to Assess Students without Standardized Tests

  1. Look at student’s school work -Students are doing work across the year. Let's assess that, rather than a bubbletest. For instance, we can look at a piece of writing and use a standardized rubric to measure that. We can listen to a recording of a student's reading and retelling and use a standardized measure to assess their readIng and comprehension level. The great thing is that teachers already do this. No need to fork over millions to a publisher and grading staff.
  2. Games -More and more games are being created that allow us to determine a student’s level mastery by their ability to progress in a game. Simulation games/contests and games like Tabula Digita, Manga High are examples.  
  3. Challenges -In real life we’re assessed by how well we do, not how well we fill in bubbles. Instead of bubble tests, support young people in in tackling real challenges to demonstrate their capabilities and get scouted for awesome apprenticeship/internship/career opportunities.  This is exactly what companies like Rad Matter (life is rad, make it matter) do.  
  4. Badges and Points -Folks like Tom Vander Ark (Author, Getting Smart) predict badges will be big in education and I agree. A badge (think boy/girl scouts) is an award for demonstrated mastery of a skill that has become popular as a reward mechanism in games and social networks like In education a badge could be awarded for successful completion of an activity. An example of this is Code Academy co-founded by Columbia U dropout (school got in the way of learning) Zach Sims. Code Academy is a site where you learn to program by actually coding and as you do you receive points and badges as you complete each exercise. I'm a newbie learning Java and html. I have 22 points and 2 badges.
  5. Real World Work -Encourage students to get out of the classroom and into the world doing work in an area of interest. The iSchool is an example of a school that does this well with their Areas of focus Program. Staff supports students in figuring out what it is that interest them and them helps them go out into the world and do it via an internship, apprenticeship, job. Just like in the real world, their work is assessed by their supervisor.
  6. Real World Projects -I talk to so many students who are doing amazing work...just not in school. They're making viral videos, writing for publications or publishing their own blogs, engaging in public speaking, etc. The problem is, in today's paradigm of school, when we do work worthy of the world, this just doesn't matter. Let's change that! When kids are doing amazing things in the world, let's give them credit for it.
  7. Real World AccomplishmentsWhy is it that in most cases, school will only provide credit for that which is done during their hours on their terms. Why can't students get credit for accomplishments achieved outside of school if they provide evidence. For example, complete a marathon, win a dance contest or volleyball tournament, get physical education credit. Compete in a pig competition, get science credit. Write a travel review, get social studies credit. Perform in a recital, get music credit. In these cases, the assessment doesn't come from the school, it comes from the real world, and that's a good thing.
  8. Personal Success Plans -Assessment should be customized to the student, not standardized to the system. This is exactly what happens with a personalized success plan with measurable goals. Teachers work with students to help them identify their goals then develop a real plan to achieve them. This involves input from teachers, mentors, family, friends, and community. The teacher, students, family. mentors, etc. can see at any time the student’s progress at anytime and provide scaffolded support as necessary.
  9. ePortfolios -ePortfolios provide a great way to capture, document, make meaning, and share with others what we learn. They are a wonderful assessment tool that tells much more about a child than a letter or number on a piece of paper.  Not only that, they form the basis of what can lead to academic and career success.  There are numerous ways to create free, student-owned ePortfolios. Knowit App is a new site that is helping students do this work, but as ePortfolio guru Helen Barrett explains, Google Sites and Wikispaces are also great resources.
This isn't that hard and it's better for everyone (students, parents, teachers, school leaders) except the mega-billion dollar testing industry. Now that we've saved millions of dollars and saved countless hours wasted on testing and prepping, how do you think we can better serve students? I have my ideas!

This post also appears in these places.
Dirigo Blue
Minds of Kids