You often hear of people asking how we can accurately assess the K.Cs – especially now that they are ideally the foundation of our curriculum. This question, I suspect, comes from those wanting quantified and comparable data.
And it’s this school of thought about assessment – the moderated, summative philosphy, that I think is taking over the other, formative approach. I wonder if the worst effect of the National Standards is going to be the momentum it will give the quantitative force.
There is a great quote that I have been letting settle in my mind for some time.
“Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” Oscar Wilde
I see the K.Cs as fitting into these sorts of knowings. There ARE some parts of the competencies that can be explicitly taught but others, such as self management are just as well ‘caught’ as taught through good modelling and a good deal of time. I also wonder if we could also say that there is,
‘..nothing worth knowing that can be assessed.’
Just because something is harder to assess does it make it less valuable or worthwhile spending classroom currancy on? I wonder if the quantifying team would suggest not. You can’t moderate it, can’t collect accurate data on it and how will we make some flash graphs for our B.O.T?
I realise I’m being a bit cynical but it’s a road I see many schools heading in. Is this the bigger picture that is getting lost for many in the National Standards debate? The biggest deficit impact for students will be if we shift the K.Cs to the margins because we are chasing the numeracy and literacy wild goose.
So, this term I have been stressing to my class that our big picture is all about the Key Competency, ‘THINKING.’ We’ve been using science as our fuel but thinking is the car we are getting better at driving. ‘What are we getting better at?’ I ask them. ‘Thinking!’ is their chant.
So, how do we assess the K.Cs? I absolutely value the formative power of assessment for learning and always see a matrix or rubric as an important part of this process. This K.C matrix, above, is based on the web that Lester Flocton introduced in the DVD, ‘The Connected Curriculum’ and was something I started using last year as a google doc. Students created their own copy and embeded their assessment on their efolio.
This year I have created a web for the wall which groups of three use to guide them through the independent investigation process. A booklet scaffolds them through the stages to developing their own question, carrying out an experiment and developing a theory. Each strand of our, ‘Thinking Web’ has three stages; no evidence, some evidence and lots of evidence. It’s surprising how honest and thoughtful the students have been so far.
Key Competency Assessment Thinking
My next step with this process will be to use it next term too but to co-construct the strands with me. It will be an interesting journey for our technology inquiry.