Deborah Meier’s education advice to Obama is an excellent column in the Washington Post about “performance assessment” in evaluating both students and teachers. This is an excellent, and useful, alternative to the evaluative processes that are used right now in schools.

Deborah Meier writes about it in the context of students:

For our nation’s students, the evaluative process should be treated less like the part of the driver’s test where we complete a pen-and-paper exam, and more like the part where we actually get in a car and show what we can do on a real road with real traffic and real-time scenarios unfolding all around us.

She describes an assessment done at one of her former schools where oral interviews are conducted with each student twice each year. The student reads aloud and discusses the text. We do something similar at our school, where we meet with each student three times each year. The student reads two short passages to a teacher to measure reading fluency, and each time the student completes two clozes (fill-in-the-gap) to measure reading comprehension and vocabulary development.

This is how she describes performance assessment for teachers:

For our nation’s teachers, we need to allocate time in the school day for educators to meet with their students and colleagues to revise plans, provide feedback, and make mid-flight corrections based on evidence.

Teachers need to be observed by their colleagues on a planned basis as part of a peer review system. And schools need external reviewers to look over student work and classrooms in a non-punitive environment that lets educators focus less on hiding their weaknesses, and more on listening for helpful advice.

She goes on to describe  what parents and the public deserve:

We need to provide publicly available, easily accessible information regarding all of these interdependent processes: Who is involved, how often do student, teacher and whole-school assessments occur, and how have educators responded to the information they’ve acquired in order to improve the learning conditions for children?

It all sounds good to me….

For more information on performance assessment, please read an earlier post.