Authentic Assessment

The Carnegie Scholarship
of Ted Nellen

Authentic Assessment

Assessing my students has always given me hives. In my need to find relief I've become more conscious of authentic assessment. The problem with assessment is that we don't do it well in American schools. Assessment is to inform instruction, reflect curriculum, and otherwise assist the learner in the task of learning. Sadly this is not the case in American public schools. Current forms of assessment do not inform instruction, do not reflect curriculum, or do not assist any learner in learning. The purpose of this two year teacher research project begun in July 1999, will be to continue my pedagogical journey through authentic assessment begun years ago. It is reflective of our Carnegie guide, Lee Shulman, who explains scholarship as a trinity of
1. make it public
2. solicit peer review
3. enable teachers to build on one anothers' work

Now that we are in the Age of Interaction, this trinity becomes crucial to authentic assessment and to my assumptions about better assessment. It is the very nature of this technology to allow for global interaction among scholars. Just as teachers are scholars so too are the student scholars. By using the technology, we can make the student scholars' work public and available for peer and mentor review. By incorporating the ideals of pure scholarship to assessment, we will achieve scholarship from the learners. In addition, authentic assessment complements constructivist pedagogy. Curently education policy is being driven by politics with very little pedagogical input. Educational policy should be the combination of politics and pedagogy. Through my teacher research I will practice this authentic assessment theory.

I'm not anti standards and I have to build that case. I'm just trying to figure it out. Some of the things I'm considering is marrying the idea of making it public and assessment. This would involve involvement of all members of the community and those we have heard called the stakeholders. Part of the notion of the democracy we created so long ago was the idea of public involvement and interaction with the society. Using that idea I propose the use of the technology to allow for the community to gather together to undertake the task of assessment.

The research I will undertake will be to use my own classroom of scholars in Cyber English and study authentic assessment. Each of my scholars creates a webfolio, which is an electronic portfolio and includes all of their work not just an edited selection. All students are eligible. This webfolio is available to the Internet community and allows for mentoring, which I call telementoring. This provides me the platform to establish inclass peer review practices as well as global peer review. My scholars are making their work public and they are practicing peer review. My study will have my scholars keep journals which reflect on their own peer review process as well as record their reactions to the messages they receive about their work. They will reflect on the process of peer review and its effect on their own work. They will assess this process as a driving force in their work. They will be defending their work, just as a doctoral candidate will defend hir dissertation. We will explore and discuss how peer review is a more positive influence on their scholarship as compared to the current form of high stakes assessment. I hope to use this research to present and represent the practice of my pedagogical theory. Part of the evaluation will include, where possible, the reaction by the telementors, employers, and others on the success of these scholars.

In New York State, my scholars have to take and pass the New York State Regents to graduate from high school. The object of this study will be to document methods of authentic assessment so as to provide some further thinking on how scholars in the public schools of New York are evaluated. Certainly the political ramifications to this current trend in assessment is only practiced in public schools. Opponents of the standards movement cry racism, the reestablishing of a pecking order, and call this America's ethnic cleansing. I hope to influence the policy makers to consider this methogolgy of authentic assessment by gaining their confidence by actively engaging them and the parents and the community in the process of assessment. I wish to play out the theory that it takes a village to educate the child. I wish to demonstarte this by using the Internet and the technology to tap into the community and bring Community and Education together.

It is not about whether or not we need assessment, of course we do, it is about the manner in which we assess and about making it reflective of the pedagogy practiced, the multiple intelligences of our scholars, and that assessment be introspective.

My inquiry will be driven by the following questions (which are always subject to change and tweaking):

How can I use limited time and money to its greatest via the technology and community involvement?
Making teacher scholarship and student scholarship second nature.
How can webfolios be the foundation of what my scholars, their parents, the state, and I think is important in learning?
How can peer review be used to demonstrate how my scholars come to understand what they are learning?
How can reflective journals help explain what is happening in peer review and webfolio assessment for the scholars?
What happens to student learning in the process of making the webfolio, doing peer review, and reflecting on the process in a journal?

So in the true spirit of scholarship I make public my work for peer review and welcome all comments. So please email Ted Nellen.

First steps in the Ecology of Learning, the beginnings for me.
Formal Image of The Scholars 7/1999
Fun Image of The Scholars 7/1999
Official Image 7/2000

© Ted Nellen 1999