What role do/can/should students play in their own assessment?

Today I am going to try to respond to another question I posed in a recent post about assessment. If you want to read my musings about the first two questions, you can read them here and here. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to these questions but ruminating about them allows me to consider some possible solutions or points of view. I invite readers of this blog to engage in this conversation with me. 

I also want to acknowledge my PLN – #sblchat – for bold discussions on standards based grading and learning that are enriching my thinking about assessment.

What role do/can/should students play in their own assessment?

This is one of my favourite questions about assessment.

For me, it is so crystal clear that students need to be involved in their own assessment, that it’s almost a non sequitur. Creating projects; setting goals and developing plans to meet them; assessing progress on those goals; and setting new goals, are all important aspects of the role students can play in their own assessment. 

Knowing how to monitor learning – the process and the product – should not be the sole domain of the teacher. Students can be taught to do this as well. This requires an environment of trust and safety so that students can take reasonable risks. It also requires modelling and practice by both the teacher and the students. As Katie Wood Ray once said to a group of teachers, ‘Whatever assignment you give your students, you must do yourself at least once,’ that way you can anticipate problems and challenges that students may encounter. Furthermore, you will be able to provide strategies for students as they tackle new learning.

Self-assessments can take many forms. Some of the more familiar ones are written or oral reflections, exit tickets, checklists, and questionnaires. Some brave teachers go as far as determining grades jointly with their students. If there is a great deal of discrepancy between the two grades, then the teacher can engage in a conversation with the student to determine where their perceptions differ. How that is handled after that would be determined by the comfort level and staying power of the teacher.

The point here is that we need to find as many different ways as possible for students to take ownership of their learning. Including students in their own assessment is a critical step in this direction.

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