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Affirmative Testing Blog: Grading For Learning

Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been focusing lately on a practice I call “affirmative testing”—that is, using tests as occasions for learning and growth. Affirmative testing promotes the re-thinking of every stage of the assessment process, including grading. So I was gratified to read a new post on on the blog Faculty Focus, written by Maryellen Weimer,
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Affirmative Testing Blog: Increased Structure Benefits All Students

On the website of nprED (which has generating a lot of great education reporting lately), there’s an interesting article by NPR reporter Anya Kamenetz. Kamenetz highlights a new book by Chester E. Finn Jr., titled Failing Our Brightest Kids: The Global Challenge of Educating High-Ability Students. Written with Brandon L. Wright, the book argues that America’s high-achieving students “are being
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Affirmative Testing Blog: Evidence-Based EdTech

Imagine a medical researcher who has just designed a technologically sophisticated new tool—for delivering leeches to patients so that they can be bled of their diseases. Bloodletting went out in the 19th century, and physicians today would recognize (I hope) that delivering this useless treatment in a shiny new fashion won’t make it any more effective. And yet something analogous
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Affirmative Testing Blog: What Students Do With Feedback

The research by Stanford professor Carol Dweck on “fixed” and “growth” mindsets has become familiar to many teachers and parents—familiar enough that you’ll often hear an adult say to a child, “You’re so smart! Er—I mean—you worked so hard on that!” (Dweck’s message that we should praise effort and not inherent ability has been widely accepted, it seems, but for
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Affirmative Testing Blog: How Tests Are Presented Matters

I’ve been writing a lot here lately about what I call affirmative testing, which is the use of tests as occasions to promote student learning and growth. There are many factors that determine the difference between affirmative testing and tests as anxiety-inflicting, confidence-destroying, curiosity-extinguishing instruments of torture (see my Affirmative Testing Manifesto for the factors I believe are most important),
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Affirmative Testing Resources

A New Vision for Testing A reported article about affirmative testing, a version of which originally appeared in Scientific American. The Affirmative Testing Manifesto A twelve-point manifesto for turning testing into occasions for learning and growth. Turn Testing Into Learning: An E-Course on Affirmative Testing An online course that provides clear, accessible guidance to parents, teachers, and school leaders who
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Affirmative Testing Blog: Tests That Help You Pay Attention

If you’ve ever watched a videotaped lecture or speech online, you’ve probably experienced this phenomenon: You cue up the video with every intention of paying close and conscientious attention. As the video plays on, however, you find your mind drifting—to a conversation you had earlier in the day, to the list of things you need to accomplish before tomorrow. Seeing
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Affirmative Testing Blog: A New Use For Our Testing Infrastructure

The No Child Left Behind legislation, and the impact it’s had on U.S. schools, has many, many critics—and rightly so. This 13-year-old experiment does show us something important, however: that it’s possible to expose every public school student in the country to a particular set of materials (in the case of NCLB, annual tests of reading and math). What if
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Affirmative Testing Blog: A Culture of Continual Feedback

In general, I’m skeptical of generational arguments in education: that common line of reasoning that goes, “Millennials [or Generation Y or digital natives or . . . ] have grown up doing X, so we in education need to do X, too, to maintain their attention and engagement.” If X isn’t supported by research on how people actually learn, then
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Affirmative Testing Blog: The Importance of Re-Learning

My very favorite cognitive scientist, Dan Willingham of the University of Virginia, has written a wonderful article in The Atlantic about what we remember, what we forget, and why. There’s lots of interesting stuff here, and I recommend reading the whole article, but I (of course) seized on the part that relates to my current crusade for affirmative testing (that
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