Equity & Diversity Opinion

What Would a More Democratic Student Assessment Look Like?

By Greg Jobin-Leeds — May 09, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Guest blogger Bryant Muldrew shows us some possibilities for a better, qualitative student assessment system, which doesn’t rely on the increasingly-discredited regime of standardized tests. Have you participated in or seen compelling alternatives in your experience? Post in the comments below! -- Greg

What would a more democratic student assessment look like?

The expectation of all parents who place their children in any school is that their children learn useful knowledge by the time of their graduation. I believe that students, principals, teachers, and other administrators share this same expectation; however, we all have a disagreement on the terms of evaluation of learning process. More specifically, I believe the most significant difference of opinion pertains to the evaluation of student academic growth.

Some believe the most accurate assessment of growth is through testing, whether it is a general classroom test or standardized testing. After eight years of teaching and tutoring in mathematics, I think there are more efficient ways to evaluate academic growth. Before I give a specific example, I must say that students should be involved in the decision of how to evaluate their development.

In my teaching with the Baltimore Algebra Project, we used presentations as a means to evaluating our students. After each mathematical concept, students were responsible for presenting their understanding in front of the class. In addition, students in the audience are required to give substantive comments and ask questions. The results of these presentations are intimate discussions of math concepts. The other benefit of this process is the teachers get to clearly see which portions of concepts their students do not completely understand. I’ve also seen similar evaluation processes in other subjects.

There is a secondary evaluation process we use called Exhibitions. An exhibition is a larger scale presentation that includes the entire semester’s material. Exhibitions are done in the presence of teachers, parents, and administers, giving them all an opportunity to see and assess the growth of students. I must say that this process has help teachers I’ve worked with tailor lessons to the understanding of their students increasing their ability to learn the concepts.

Truly such a design of assessment can be to the benefit of all students. The most important part is having a process that students can agree upon is helpful. In our classes, we believe students have the right to decide how things should be in the classroom. Through a democratic process we (students and teachers) voted several times on how to assess their growth. The teachers always lost the vote to the students. Interestingly enough, our students were initially against the presentation process; however, they appreciate the process after understanding the value of experience. This is the true key to assessment; making room at the decision making table for students.

The National Student Bill of Rights embodies the idea of student driven assessment and evaluation. Educators must make room for new innovative ideas, especially when it comes to student assessment. (Note that our new home is at Daily Kos)

The opinions expressed in Democracy and Education are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Reported Essay What the Indian Caste System Taught Me About Racism in American Schools
Born and raised in India, reporter Eesha Pendharkar isn’t convinced that America’s anti-racist efforts are enough to make students of color feel like they belong.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Reported Essay Our Student Homeless Numbers Are Staggering. Schools Can Be a Bridge to a Solution
The pandemic has only made the student homelessness situation more volatile. Schools don’t have to go it alone.
5 min read
Conceptual illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Equity & Diversity How Have the Debates Over Critical Race Theory Affected You? Share Your Story
We want to hear how new constraints on teaching about racism have affected your schools.
1 min read
Mary Hassdyk for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion When Educational Equity Descends Into Educational Nihilism
Schools need to buckle down to engage and educate kids—not lower (or eliminate) expectations in the name of “equity.”
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty