Home > Uncategorized > What If We Heeded Arthur Camins’ Article in 2010? Would “Reformers” Have a Leg to Stand On?

What If We Heeded Arthur Camins’ Article in 2010? Would “Reformers” Have a Leg to Stand On?

August 26, 2018

Diane Ravitch wrote a cross-post from a blogger who writes as “Rage Against the Testocracy” on the limitations of standardized testing. Among the comments was one from high school teacher and blogger Arthur Camins that included a link to an article he originally authored in 2010 for the Gheens Institute for Innovation, Institute Insights, an article that was more insightful than the cross post. Mr. Camins’ article advocates the use of formative assessments instead of summative assessments, advocates the need for clearer and more precise learning objectives, and advocates the need for collaboration among teachers in the same way that physicians collaborate to advance medicine and develop sound diagnoses. The article begins with these questions:

What if we shifted the balance of our assessment attention from the summative to the formative—assessment that can be used every day to support learning?

What if we could more precisely identify where each student was along the pathway to learning?

What if we could be more accurate at sorting out the nuances in his or her gaps in understanding?

What if we focused most of our assessment attention on becoming better at interpreting daily data from regular class work and used that evidence to help students move their own learning forward?

I think we would become better at seeing the whole student and responding to his or her individual needs. Assessment would be a support instead of a threat. In the end, students would perform better on the summative tests.

Unfortunately no one paid attention to Mr. Camins in 2010 when the article was written nor did it get appropriate attention in 2014 when Valerie Strauss reprinted it as part of her Answer Sheet in the Washington Post.

I hope it isn’t too late to consider his points in 2018… for if they had been heeded in 2010 we might have moved away from placing so much weight on standardized test results and used the energy and money wasted on that enterprise to help make teaching more professional and personal and less robotic and algorithmic.

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