The Best Test Ever

I gave up on giving tests a long time ago. I am not saying that I hate them, just that I have not found a need in a long time to give one. On Wednesday I was wrapping up a unit and I thought I would try to make some authentic assessments. This was news to my students, and I never even really told them that the goal was assessing.

All this was because of standards based grading. I took into the class examples of work that students should be able to do having almost completed the work of our inquiry into mechanical energy. I put up the problem or the question and allowed them to try it on their own. After that they had a chance to claim their work. If they wanted to put their name on the paper and turn it in they could. If not I asked why and helped them figure out what was wrong. They can always meet the standard later.

On the next standard I asked a more conceptual problem called a ranking task, and used a strategy called pyramid testing. I asked them each to commit to an answer on their own. Then all submitted their answer and they had 10 minutes to come to a group conclusion and commit to it. Finally, I left the room and told them to put a class answer on the board. I told them that I was going to pick a random number and that person on the class list would have to explain the class decision. I

As I listed to groups talk I gained a ton of understanding about how my students were meeting the standards. Even the classes ability to convince each other of a final answer on the conceptual question gave me a lot more insight into their knowledge than I expected. The hour was lively, filled with discussion and learning and assessment. The best test ever.