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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Conceptualizing the New Assessment Culture in Schools

Menucha Birenbaum (In press) uses a complex-systems framework to conceptualize assessment in schools in a chapter titled, Conceptualizing assessment culture in school

Acknowledging the recursive interactions that exist and the way students, educators, schools, and systems learn, she asks readers to consider classroom learning and teacher professional learning. Making thoughtful connections, Birenbaum (In press) proposes a way to conceptualize the new assessment culture that is emerging in schools. This well-written, thoughtful chapter is an insightful analysis of current research and thinking.

Part of the chapter considers the assessment culture mindset from the perspective of seven indicators:

1.    ‘It's all about learning’ (learning-centered paradigm)
2.    Assessment drives teaching and learning
3.    Assessment means dialogue/interaction with the learner
4.    Assessment empowers the learner
5.    Diversity is desirable
6.    I/We can do it!
7.    Modesty (in assessment) is required

Each indicator is illustrated by quotes from students, teachers, and principals in schools with an assessment culture. For example, in the section ‘Assessment drives teaching and learning’ ateacher in the middle school is quoted, 

“I know if the students understood according to their questions, according to how they work and learn, I can say that for me the students are like a mirror [of my instruction] … so I have to look at the mirror and examine their understanding.”

This is a thought-provoking chapter that will have teachers and leaders alike rethinking the assessment culture in their classrooms and schools.


To appear in: Wyatt-Smith, C., Klenowski, V. & Colbert, P. (Eds.) (In Press). Assessment for Learning Improvement and Accountability: The Enabling Power of Assessment Series, Volume 1. (Ch. 18, pp. 285-302). Berlin: Springer (http://www.springer.com/education+%26+language/book/978-94-007-5901-5)

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