January 31, 2019

Rob Hadath, when asked about assessment and reporting in his high school mathematics class said, “Now when I look to assessment, I look at it more as just finding the truth. What is the true ability of the student and how can I most accurately reflect that?”

Finding the truth about a student’s learning, a teacher’s or leader’s effectiveness, a system’s impact, or program or policy implementation is more than adding up all the numbers, doing a quick common assessment, or relying on the results of large-scale assessment.

Secondary Math Classroom

Finding the truth is both more complex and complicated than that. It takes time and relies on the following three things:

  • Triangulation – At all levels of the organization, we collect evidence from multiple sources over time – product, observation, and conversation – and when we use triangulated evidence, many pathways to the truth emerge.
  • Tight feedback cycles – Because you are in close contact with the learner and you check in while in process, the teacher, the leader, and the learner himself/herself can make ‘just-in-time’ adjustments. And because the adjustments are witnessed, you learn more of the truth.
  • Letting the evidence and the learners speak for itself/themselves – Now that you have gathered evidence that moves beyond numbers and that outlasts the event, what has been learned or accomplished becomes more visible. You can know more of the truth.

These actions form the foundation upon which our informed professional judgment can rest; this allows us to, as Rob Hadath says, “…find the truth.”

So as you think about your role – as teacher and/or leader – what truth do you need to find? How might rethinking evidence and feedback cycles help you to find that truth?

Anne, Sandra, and Brenda

P.S. You can extend your learning by reading the accounts of 14 secondary teachers, as they describe how they get closer to “the truth.”