Will gamification replace paper tests?

Nearly everyone remembers the stress of taking a test in school. In-class exams have the power to make even the most dedicated of students quake with fear, not to mention the damage they can do to the egos of struggling learners. For some students, the stress causes their minds to go blank, while others experience physical symptoms like headaches and nausea.

In fact, around 40 percent of students regularly report experiencing moderate to severe anxiety over tests. Unfortunately, that stress isn’t limited to students in higher grades. Even elementary school students can struggle with fear and performance anxiety on standardized tests. No surprise, then, that teachers and schools are increasingly rethinking their assessment methods, seeking ways to evaluate student performance without causing undue stress.

Fortunately, there are other methods of assessing students–methods that greatly reduce anxiety levels while simultaneously improving performance. One method getting a lot of attention is gamification, which involves incorporating elements of game playing, such as establishing ground rules, scorekeeping, and engaging in friendly competition with other students. Recent studies have shown that gamification in education can increase assessment scores by nearly 15 percent.…Read More

Addressing students’ pandemic ‘learning loss’

A new phrase as a result of the pandemic, “learning loss,” captures the concern that students’ learning has been compromised over the past year and a half. However, before the strategies for addressing the concern can be identified, it’s important to define and articulate what is meant by learning loss.   

The observation is true that many students aren’t at the same place in their subject mastery as similar pre-pandemic students. For example, in North Carolina, where I serve as a Superintendent, a recent report revealed that just 45 percent of public school students could pass state standardized tests, down from 59 percent two years earlier. (Testing was waived for the 2019-2020 school year).  

The question then for many is how do we help these students catch up? That question, however, assumes that the standard by which students were assessed two years earlier is the appropriate assessment tool for students today.  …Read More

Editor’s Picks 2015, No. nine: Why you should stop testing and start assessing

One educator issues a challenge to all: skip the Scantron and discover what students really know

PLCs-communitiesEd. note: This year the editors selected ten stories we believe either highlighted an important issue in 2015 and/or signaled the beginning of an escalating trend or issue for 2016 (look for No. 1 on Dec. 31). This April piece, on the difference between testing vs. assessing, was published as part of Innovation In Action, a monthly column from the International Society of Technology in Education focused on exemplary practices in education.

testing-studentsDuring the first day of the semester, one of my students commented: “Your class is the easiest class I have this semester. You don’t have any tests.” I laughed, but the student was serious.

I teach graduate level courses about educational technology, such as Online Tools for Teaching and Learning. The thought of asking students to take tests to show their knowledge had never crossed my mind. My goal has always been to design courses that capture the interest of the students and inspire them to take charge of their learning. I just don’t think that tests can capture my students’ true learning experiences.…Read More

Tests for pupils, but the grades go to teachers

New York City education officials are developing more than a dozen new standardized tests, but in a sign of the times, their main purpose will be to grade teachers, not the students who take them, the New York Times reports. Elementary school students would most likely take at least one or two additional tests every year, beginning in the third grade. High school students could take up to eight additional tests a year, and middle school students would also have extra tests. These would be in addition to the state English, math and Regents exams that students already take…

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Under pressure, teachers tamper with test scores

Of all the forms of academic cheating, none may be as startling as educators tampering with children’s standardized tests, reports the New York Times. But investigations in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia and elsewhere this year have pointed to cheating by educators. Experts say the phenomenon is increasing as the stakes over standardized testing ratchet higher — including, most recently, taking student progress on tests into consideration in teachers’ performance reviews. Colorado passed a sweeping law last month making teachers’ tenure dependent on test results, and nearly a dozen other states have introduced plans to evaluate teachers partly on scores. Many school districts already link teachers’ bonuses to student improvement on state assessments. Houston decided this year to use the data to identify experienced teachers for dismissal, and New York City will use it to make tenure decisions on novice teachers…

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