But the deficit model directly contradicted my long-held belief in the importance of learning from our mistakes. As I became more aware of the tension, I began shifting toward more of a proficiency model of assessment. This summer, the conditions were right, and I took the plunge.
There's a lot to say about this, but I wanted to at least get something out there. The basic structure is this:
- I identify a set of 10 to 15 clear learning targets ("I can..." statements) for each unit of study and align every task I collect with one or more learning targets.
- I view collected tasks as "evidence of proficiency", and evaluate them in light of a single question: How convincing is this piece of evidence?
- I invite (and expect) students to resubmit evidence and to submit additional evidence as needed to show proficiency.
These opportunities are varied in form; they include both timed tasks and untimed tasks, ranging from fairly structured to open-ended. The cups task is an example of a fairly structured untimed task. I'll share other examples as time permits.
Here's the rubric I use to assign a score on each learning target based on the evidence gleaned from a performance task:
0 No Evidence / Missed Opportunity. There is no evidence of this target available yet.The rubric is adapted from one my colleague Math Hombre used in a previous iteration of this course. [Update 2/27/14: Here's the new and improved version!] Inherent in this rubric is a focus on the evidence, not the student. Students are expected to submit more convincing evidence as it becomes available.
1 You’re not there yet. The evidence suggests you need additional support, you may have some misconceptions to overcome, or both.
2 I’m not convinced: the evidence is mixed or not yet convincing. Sometimes you make good progress, but you also make errors, get stuck, or struggle to complete some tasks.
3 I’m almost convinced: You can probably do this, but I don’t know if you can do it consistently.
4 I’m convinced: There’s good evidence that you can do this consistently. You explain your reasoning clearly, and any mistakes tend to be minor and easily corrected or explained.
5 I’m sold: You obviously “own this”: you understand it in a deep way, rarely make mistakes, and communicate your understanding clearly and convincingly.
The bottom line: This semester, my students' grades are based on the accumulation of evidence of their proficiency, and as a result my students appear to be thinking about the tasks I provide as opportunities, not hurdles. I'll talk about that in a subsequent post.