So here's a crazy idea...

  • Ask teachers in your building to bring a recent quiz or test to the next staff meeting. Make sure their names are on the assessments they bring.
  • Mix up all of the assessments in a big pile and hand them back out. Each teacher gets one. No one is allowed to get a test that's in his or her subject area (i.e., no English teacher is allowed to take any other English teacher's test).
  • They spend 20 minutes taking the test that they have in hand.
  • Return the test to the teacher that created it. That teacher then grades it and returns it to the one who took it.

What would this do?

  • It would allow educators to see how others are assessing.
  • I'm guessing that many teachers are going to miss a bunch of stuff, at least in secondary schools. Which then leads, of course, to the issue of:

    Most of us would consider ourselves successful adults and yet we couldn't answer a lot of this. What does that mean for our teaching and our students' learning? 

    Follow-up questions might include How important is the stuff we're teaching? and If this stuff is important, why did we miss so many? and If this stuff is not important, why are we teaching it?

I think this could prompt some good internal discussion for a teaching staff. Thoughts? Anyone done something like this?

Note: A few years back, the College of Education and Human Development booth at the Minnesota State Fair had ten sample questions from the 8th grade state assessment. Those of us staffing the booth tried to get fair attendees to answer the questions to see how they'd do compared to what the state expected middle schoolers to know. We couldn't get anyone to do it; the number of takers was extremely low. There were lots of nervous laughter and comments, though...

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