Monday, April 09, 2007

Oakland's Coalition of Essential Schools Goes Beyond NCLB's high-stakes-tests - Showcases Alternative Assessments; Happy 4th Birthday June Jordan

At the local level here in the San Francisco- Oakland Bay Area, CES is working with our district to hopefully begin a new Bayview Essential School of Music, Art and Social Justice in the Fall. But on a national level they are promoting an innovative campaign to showcase models of alternative assessments which challenge the NCLB-promoted high-stakes-tests and to hopefully impact policy at the national and state levels.

The Second Annual National Exhibition Month (May, 2007) highlights exhibitions as a preferred form of student assessment and features over 100 public schools in 25 states that will open their doors to the public to showcase student exhibitions.

According to Lewis Cohen, Executive Director of CES, ... exhibitions are presentations that students make in front of outside “experts” to demonstrate what they know and what they have learned. “We are inviting community members and policy makers to witness the deep learning and engagement that this type of assessment requires,” Cohen said.

While standardized tests may show a “slice” of what students have learned, exhibitions offer up the whole pie, providing a 360º look at what students know and what they can do with that knowledge. Unlike machine-graded assessments that test textbook memorization, exhibitions require students to develop and use a wide range of analytical and communication skills.

[see CES' youtube clip -

“You can't get a driver’s license without a road test. Exhibitions, like road tests, demonstrate that the student knows how to put knowledge into practice. This is a better way of certifying competence than a written test alone,” said Marcy Raymond, principal of Metro High School in Columbus , Ohio . “And it is no wonder that students who are required to demonstrate what they've learned are better prepared for college and the professional world, where the ability to synthesize information, think critically and present publicly are paramount.”

More info on CES and their Exhibition Month: http://www.essentialschools.orgl

One San Francisco High School that has developed excellent alternative portfolio assessments is June Jordan High School for Equity. I am proud to say that one of my nieces will be graduating in the first JJSE graduating class. She has been accepted to the University of California, Davis [my alma mater!] and will likely be attending there in the Fall.

SF School Board President Mark Sanchez and I will be honoring June Jordan students, parents and founders Kate Goka, Shane Safir and Matt Alexander at the school's 4th Anniversary Celebration on May 3rd.


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