Restorative justice dates back to the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (@1700 B.C.) where it was believed that any crime harmed the whole community. In nursing, it refers to a healing process where the treatment is responsive to an identified need. Restorative assessment holds promise in education, especially for learners who may stumble through conventional measures. Assessment becomes restorative when it re-engages learners, restores confidence, and encourages progress, one resolute step at a time.
Restorative practice in school fosters a positive climate and empowers students as owners of learning. It is remarkably effective and especially essential for students who struggle to learn, are frustrated in school, and ultimately face failure.
Restorative assessments interrupt that sequence. It shifts the focus from assessments that indicate deficiencies to ones that illuminate strengths. With appropriate routines all types of learners, from the disengaged to the divergent can make progress towards mastery. Restorative assessment includes these essential elements.
We live in a world of soundbites, but assessment cannot be restored simply with platitudes. Synthesizing what is proven about best practice improves learning outcomes for all students. This doesn’t require an extreme makeover, rather it relies on purposeful practice, complementary pathways, and balanced approaches and that engage the whole community and gets everyone on the ramp to success.
FUN: Focused, Useful, eNgaging
Is the FUN missing in your assessments? Tests may not provoke joy in your students, but these strategies can make assessment more user-friendly than traditional measures. These active assessments are informative, engaging, responsive, support student ownership, and of course, align with learning intentions.
SPOT THE FAKE
Choose the real news item from the list and defend your selection: This can be used as a pre-assessment, review of learning, or a concluding assessment. Alternatively students can correct fake news items. Even better, have students write fake news for others to evaluate and revise.
In Ms. Lo-Kuman’s health class, students generated these headlines for analysis.
1. Vitamin Cigarettes will add years to your life
2. Dihydrogen Monoxide can control your weight
3. Robassia is now selling specially grown dandelions to boost your immune system.
If you see something online and there’s a person’s picture with it, it must be true. Abraham Lincoln
CROSS THE LINE
After learning (nutrition, insects, planets, weather, historic events, literature, etc.), students stand on a straight line. They move to one side or the other in response to questions such as:Are you more like calcium or iron, a bee or ladybug, Mercury or Neptune, a hurricane or landslide, Martin Luther King or Ruby Bridges, Sherlock or Watson? Using what they learned, they explain their position. Alternatively, they can collaborate with others on the same side and collectively describe their thinking.
Create recipes for literary characters or historical figures- Each student writes one, other students guess, then explain and evaluate.
3 cups of friendship, zero common sense
1 teaspoon piquant sauce and a dash of self-determination
COMING NEXT: Wanted Poster, Pizza Wisdom, Two Sides of the Mirror, Q and A Summary, Team Trivia,
Holistic, similar to the word whole, means to develop comprehensive and coherent mental representations of learning. Rather than simply completing a selected-choice test, it means recognizing the schema of learning.
Holistic assessments are multidimensional in that they include varied facets of learning from recall of vocabulary to production of new ideas. Holistic assessments unify multiple learning outcomes into an integrated picture of student learning. What good does it do to know that the patient is bleeding without understanding anatomical pressure points? Why do we ask students to sequence the battles of war but not ask what would happen if the battles and their outcomes were altered?
To make assessment more holistic, consider ways you can turn traditional tests into multifaceted assessments: From knowing facts to understanding relationships and from labeling details to questioning evidence. Holistic strategies include well-thought-out projects, structured action research, and production of artifacts, each aligned with grade-level learning intentions. For example, a student may prepare a presentation of types of clouds, compare weather data at different elevations, or analyze research on climate change. When accompanied by self, peer, and teacher assessment, using rubrics along with more traditional measures, a full picture of the outcomes of learning becomes evident.
Stronger links between learning intentions and learning actions
Clearer insights into student learning
Better guidance on modifications and interventions
Integration of assessment within teaching and learning
increased student ownership and engagement in learning and assessment
*Holistic and Wholistic both mean that the parts of something are interconnected and interdependent. They may be used interchangeably with medicine typically referring to treatment of the whole person and philosophy referring to a composite holistic belief system. One source adds to the confusion by saying that although the words have distinct meanings, they have similar definitions. Go Figure
**Atomic Assessment deconstructs standards into separate and distinct elements, then measures each of the elements. For example, in a unit on atoms student may show knowledge and understanding by defining electrons and explaining Dalton’s atomic theory, but go to deeper such as considering the pros and cons of harnessing nuclear energy.
Back at home, after spending time on the road and enjoying the buzz of airports (really, I love them), it’s time to refocus on teaching, learning, and assessing. By far, the most exciting experience was spending several days at Corwin’s Annual Visible Learning Conference. Inspired by the best minds in education, including John Hattie, Peter DeWitt, Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey, here’s a sampling of ideas. Some I am still pondering, other’s I am fully committed to, and a few I’m still absorbing.
“It all comes down to mindset. If teachers think their job is a change agent, they’re more likely to be successful. If they think that their job is to constantly evaluate the impact they’re having on kids, that’s what makes the difference.” John Hattie
The ability to transfer learning is a long term aim of education. Incoming knowledge and surface learning flow to deeper levels through concept mapping, problem-solving, and metacognition, resulting in more comprehensive and complex outputs.
Restorative assessment shifts the emphasis from displaying deficiencies to illuminating strengths.
Assessment capable learners understand the learning intentions, identify their current level of expertise, select tools and strategies to support their learning, recognize and compare performance to success criteria, rely on focused feedback to improve outcomes, monitor their progress, and take action to close gaps.
Self-efficacy, student efficacy, teacher efficacy, and collective efficacy ALL MATTER!
“Every student deserves a great teacher, not by chance, but by design.” Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey
1. Tests and Assessments Are Not the Same
A test examines a student’s knowledge, understanding, and skills to determine what level of learning has been reached. It generally results in a numerical or letter grade.
Assessment involves gathering, analyzing, and responding to a student’s strengths and misconceptions about their learning. It offers informative feedback to the learner and also guides the teacher’s practice: Similar to a BMI that provides a number but not a health analysis or fitness plan. There are times we need a test but more often success is built on assessment.
2. A Standardized Test Is Just a Snapshot
There’s nothing wrong with getting an annual family portrait to provide touchstones of change over time. But in the classroom, assessment that relies on a variety of strategies offers an ongoing kaleidoscope of a child’s skills and abilities. Rather than one test score, it is essential to routinely monitor progress and take steps towards continuous improvement.
3. Encourage and Acknowledge Progress
Children can become discouraged when they don’t get the score or rating they expected. So can adults, athletes, and accountants. With assessment it is okay to make mistakes as long as we learn from them. The goal of assessment is improvement and small steps are important in reaching the big picture goals. It’s not about the learning gaps; it’s how we cross over them.
4. Let’s Work Together: Stay Connected
All of our lives have ups and downs. If your child is going through a rough patch keep the teacher informed of their changing mindset, unusual setbacks, and setups that can support improvement. Follow your child’s progress on your school’s learning management system. Talk with them and their teacher about assignments and assessments, their progress, and what you can do at home to support learning.
5. Grades Don’t Mean Everything
Test scores and report cards do not represent the whole child. Emerging studies show that someone who is dependable or works conscientiously and diligently may be more successful in life than the one who studies 12 hours a day and gets high test scores. Maybe the child with a wonderful sense of humor, practical problem-solving skills, and a willingness to help others will go farthest.
“In school you are taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you are given a test that teaches you a lesson” Tom Bodett
It is easy to test and report content knowledge. When students take a test they receive a score. Some “smart” people such as Bill Gates get high scores, while others such as Stephen King have mediocre test scores. Some people are good at taking tests and others take test-prep courses to raise their scores, but that does not make them smarter.
There are many ways to be smart. Large-scale tests do not measure a person’s emotional intelligence or will to succeed. In fact, Daniel Kahneman explains that higher IQ and SAT scores correlate with a bigger “bias blind spot” that makes them more vulnerable to believing their answers are correct.
People are too complex for one score designed to predict college success or 12 years of cumulative records to foretell their future. What is needed is a landscape of assessments, inclusive of and reaching beyond standardized tests.
A SPECTRUM OF ASSESSMENT A panorama of assessments displays a student’s knowledge, understanding and skills throughout the taxonomy. It may reveal how their interpersonal trees reach to the sky, but their swamp of emotions results in indecision.
STEALTH ASSESSMENT is what happens when students do not feel as if they are being tested. With EdPuzzle a teacher can embed questions in a video and gather responses as students watch. More and more digital games can assess during learning; from historical events to fossils, and digital literacy to coding.
INTEGRATED ASSESSMENTS are blended directly into teaching and learning. Examples include formative assessments such as entrance slips, empty outlines, Humpty Dumpty, and 3-2-1. Alternatively, if a teacher is required to use a communal selected choice test, space can be provided for students to annotate their response; for example: “I picked B, but based on what you said in class about it, parts of C are also correct because…”
Assessment is about the process of learning, not merely the final outcomes. An SAT score may show an individual’s potential but other measures are also essential to show analysis and synthesis. Comprehensive methods are essential to get a full picture of each learner’s strengths and struggles.