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Students Self-Assess For Mastery

You might be wondering if students are capable of grading themselves after a year worth of work.

You may be asking if they can objectively review their growth and then take all of their understanding of mastery and parlay it into a letter grade that suits the old system.

Perhaps a year or two ago, I too would scoff at the idea of students being able to really reflect on their abilities and determine an honest level of mastery that would yield an appropriate grade.

However, after a year of breaking down the traditional mindset, it was time to put the full power into my students' hands.

Uneasily, I let go, providing them ample opportunity to review their body of work with a formal checklist and set of standards and instead of being the arbiter, I was an attentive listener.

Students were given a choice as to how they wanted to do their self-assessments: written, voice, video, screencast, or in-person conference. Choices were made, schedules adjusted and then students were provided time to prepare.

Looking back on their body of work, they were encouraged to review reflections, feedback, and their eportfolio work so they were able to provide evidence of their level of mastery.

So far I've been blown away by the level of candor and self-awareness my students have displayed. With varying levels of preparedness, I've eagerly listened to them share their ideas about their growth.

Listen here:

After listening to the students speak and also reviewing their notes or written assessments, I'm happy to have my own opportunity to reflect and adjust the curriculum as needed. There have been many things I would consider a success this year, but I have a way to go for full adoption of this growth mindset.

Students, parents, and colleagues are eager to maintain the status quo if for no other reason than its simplicity. If anything has convinced me that this way is a better, more comprehensive way to track student growth it's the student's ability to articulate actual learning.

Too often we are afraid that kids will fall short in this area, but it just isn't the case. If we provide many opportunities for them to practice and meaningfully reflect throughout a year than the growth is exponential and far more meaningful than a teacher provided assessment.

How can you bring more student voice into your assessment? Please share

This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in June 2015

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