Re: Assessment/Grading p.o.v.

Bob King (kingbx@HAMLET.UNCG.EDU)
Thu, 29 Aug 1996 09:18:42 -0400

On Thu, 29 Aug 1996, Nick Carbone wrote:

> an editorial from yesterday's _New York Times_ that is a case in
> point of the force(s) which seek to solidify grades and assessment by
> arguing that what is needed are clearer standards.

It seems to me everyone in this discussion is arguing that clearer
standards are needed, with the differences being in the kind of standards
being promoted as conducive to something like "genuine learning."

There are problems with any kind of standard, any kind of assessment
policy, in part because there is no such thing as "standard." For some
students, portfolios will work better than letter grades (according to a
particular standard, of course :) For some students, letter grades may
work better. Hampshire College's system may work for some students, the
Citadel's system may work for other students.

In other words, the problem is again in part a structural one. If
education is in the business of trying to find "one kind fits all," it's
de-facto triage going on. According to different premises and values,
there are different ways to arrange the triage -- but again this is
based in personal, polical valuations which we're not likely to see
agreement on any time soon.

There's some hope in the move to a computer model, from a factory
model, because it addresses the above structural problem.
Education *can* become much more individual now, assessment practices
included, and this can happen quicker or slower, but it will happen.
Thankfully it won't be "us" enlightened ones against "them" standard
SAT weilding bureaucrats, because as the NY Times article points out,
they'd win, are winning, etc. The computer will end up being the hero of
this story (although many will try to claim some credit), just like the
factory was the villain in the era we're now emerging from.

Bob King