Teacher Moderation & Assessment in the age of Knowledge and Innovation

I think it behooves us to ask ourselves whether collaborative assessment practices including moderation, is different now that we are headed into 2016 – versus what it looked like in 2006? The process of grading and assessing students is very subjective, and it always has been – but with so much information, technology, globalization, opportunities and access – can we still reach consistency with our assessments?

We know that the more people engaging and collaborating, the more accurate our assessments can become. When we reach a consensus, we are better able to fill the gaps in for student learning. We can create shared interpretations of the expectations and create a better culture of equity, consistency and reliability in all of our forms of assessment.

To me, however, this also means that we need to have more formal, concrete samples of student work to assess. Further, the classes also must be consistent in assessment for, as and of learning. Therefore, I wonder if this means that all teachers engaged in moderation need to be doing the same things with all of their students? To this extent, how does innovation, inquiry, and unique cultures play into the moderation process?

Certainly, honest dialogue about how we assess our students is vitally important, as is the ability to negotiate the assessment process with other educators. This leads me to ask, who or what is driving the learning? Is it students individual learning needs? Is it the curriculum expectations? Is it our need to have data? This of course then leads me to a host of other questions including, what is curriculum? All of these questions will have an impact on the assessment processes. Can we moderate vastly different sources of assessment data and still come to a consensus? If individual student needs are different between classrooms and schools, boards etc., can we all come to a consensus for moderating student learning?

It is that fine balance of variables that we need to negotiate how we asses – especially as we plan with the end of a chunk of learning in mind. Regardless of how we all end our units, are we all expected to achieve the same kind of learning? Is that even possible? Can we achieve high quality learning even with vastly different tasks?

Our next steps and goals should always be to take our students to the next level. But I am not sure if this looks fundamentally the same across schools, or if it even should. I certainly believe that we can engage our students in parallel tasks where they are working to similar learning goals but with different tasks. Each educational context will require its own unique blend of differentiated instructional strategies and universal design elements as well. We also need to ensure that we engage in purposeful planning for the critical and effective use of technology. I do believe that we all can reach similar learning goals even if we are ever expanding our teaching strategies. Likewise, I think that it takes skill to be able to conduct appropriate and equitable assessment and evaluation practices. Equitable assessment is varied and administered over periods of time to enable students to make important connections between the learning in the classroom and real life experiences. Regardless of how innovative we get, we still come back to the categories of achievement and levels of learning that we must apply on our report cards.

Now that we are nearing 2016, I am wondering if the research and ideas that dominated our views of assessment for, as and of learning in 2006, still apply in the same ways now that we have access to information and technology in ways that did not exist. Opportunities for globalization and new forms of collaboration and knowledge building exist now that did not 10 years ago. Can we, and should we be continuing to collaborate and moderate in the same ways that we have been over the past 10 years?

The fact is, collaboration is emotionally and intellectually demanding. In what ways does it need to be done in 2015/2016 that are different than in 2005/2006?

Deborah McCallum

Copyright, 2015

2 thoughts on “Teacher Moderation & Assessment in the age of Knowledge and Innovation

  1. Pingback: Why do we Assess Literacy Skills? | Big Ideas in Education

  2. Pingback: What is Planning Time? Can we improve current models? | Big Ideas in Education

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