Assessment as Portfolio of Personal Bests

On writing instruction, I continue to find David Coleman the most productive thinker.  To the extent that the Common Core reflects fewer, clearer, and higher expectations for English Language Arts, we have David to thank for that.   A specific contribution that will be evidenced in both consortia testing schemes is the deep connection to text.  There will be fewer random writing prompts and more requests for analysis, reflection, and comparison of texts in the new states tests being developed.
In the most interesting comment of the day, Coleman said, “I like to think of assessment as a series of personal bests.”
With the shift to personal digital learning, it’s conceivable that we could replace paper and pencil multiple choice tests with a digital portfolio of personal bests.  A standards-based gradebook could automatically collect evidence of mastery from a playlist of learning activities (some online, some offline).  A dashboard could inform students, teachers, and parents of progress on a badge sequence or skill ladder.
Pictures of personal digital learning: engaging experiences, quality work products as evidence, visible progress on an academic pathway.
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Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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2 Comments

Ed Jones
7/26/2011

Tom, there's a subtle intellectual jump here...that probably isn't warranted. Not in the title--the 'portfolio of personal bests' is fine. It's the 'standards-based gradebook' part that takes the jump.
The jump is that standards and psychometrics in themselves can be good for students..if they're just better. Good for the People. Good for learning.
But standards and statistics were tools of large, structured organizations. The State and its experts vs the Trade Unions and their lawyers.
In 2011 we ought be thinking beyond this. Focusing on Badges, on allowing teachers, students, parents, and citizens to define good badges.

Replies

Tom Vander Ark
7/26/2011

I'm happy to have teacher, parent, citizen badges, but now that we have a set of national standards, there are some things kids need to know and be able to do to have full access to post secondary options. That suggests some common systems for certifying learning these things.

Tom Vander Ark
7/26/2011

I’m happy to have teacher, parent, citizen badges, but now that we have a set of national standards, there are some things kids need to know and be able to do to have full access to post secondary options. That suggests some common systems for certifying learning these things.

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