Last week the Heidelberg School of Education hosted the Inaugural Education Summit on Assessment. There was a great turnout for the two day event with Heidelberg students, faculty and staff, community members, and students from area colleges in attendance.
The summit was designed to engage pre-service teachers, area school administrators, teachers and alumni in conversations about student learning, testing and accountability. “It’s about making a difference,” said Heidelberg education professor Brian Haley, who helped organize the event.
The keynote speaker was Dr. George Wood, former Ohio University education professor and present superintendent of Federal Hocking Schools in Stewart, Ohio. Dr. Wood is the director of the Forum for Education and Democracy, an author of several books including Schools at Work (1994), and a constant advocate for the empowerment of teachers and children in education.
On Friday, sessions were given by Dr. Wood, Heidelberg’s own Dr. Julie Green, and Dr. Robin Dever from Kent State University. Following the sessions, the three presenters gathered for a panel discussion. Topics included: Make it Real: Where Authentic Assessment and Standards Meet, It's More than Just Grades: Formative Assessment for Learning, and Ways to Meet Common Core State Standards.
These session topics coincide with the current national focus on assessment and tests. However Dr. Wood claims, “Tests don’t tell us a lot about children.”
“We need to find out what kids can do, not just if they can fill in bubbles,” said Dr. Wood. He gave examples of how his school district has changed the way they assess their students. Instead of a traditional final test, students in physics had to design and build a medieval trebuchet. Instead of a test, government students were given opposing articles on an issue and then asked to write an article explaining and defending their own views.
This type of thinking spans all grade levels. Kindergarteners don’t need a test to show if they can count to 100. “Just ask them to count for you,” said Dr. Wood. “You’re the teacher, you know their abilities.”
Trusting in themselves, thinking outside the box, and putting students first is something the Heidelberg School of Education continues to emphasize for future teachers. Future teachers who will be the leaders of the next generation of educators.
“Don’t teach them to do something,” said Dr. Wood. “Teach them to do anything.”