A short note – I’m off to bed with my two boys fairly soon since I’ve got another day ahead of me tomorrow.

Today was the grammar test for my juniors; I had the test ready a few days ago, which was partially material provided with the text and partially material that I came up with for the assessment. In hindsight, I almost wish I’d gone totally with my own material – it may turn out to be less of a pain.

Part of the problem is also that I probably didn’t look through the test as carefully as I should have. There are a number of errors and inconsistencies in the test, not to mention very strange solutions that most of the students would not be able to figure out from the material. I could be somewhat flexible with my own section – for instance, my section on proofreading had more errors than actual points, so I offered extra credit for any corrections beyond that – but doing something different with the other sections is more problematic. As a result, it looks like I may be giving free points simply because some of the problems were almost universally missed by students.

I guess it’s that old adage coming back – if you want something done right, do it yourself. The problem with this, of course, is that it involves time, and what teacher has a surplus of time? I certainly don’t, so therein lies the problem. I imagine I will just end up finding the time and planning assessments further in advance, despite not wanting to continually re-invent the wheel for simple objective tests.

I’m through one class with the grading, and I have an idea now of what I will end up doing with the grading. Still, it’s very important to me that I be fair with how I handle these assessments. I’m not content to simply go with what the answer key says – I want to do right by my students, who have (for the most part) put in the effort to learn the material. I can tell the difference in many cases between legitimate errors (like writing my parent’s faces instead of my parents’ faces) and errors that were because of vague rules or unclear expectations. So this is a good lesson in how I plan my assessments and in the amount of thinking I should do when considering how I will grade the assessments.

We’ll see how I work out the next assessment for this class, which will be on our transcendentalism unit. I’m still working through that, trying to figure out the best way to give options for demonstrating knowledge of the core ideas of transcendentalism. My teacher does what she calls “aphorism books” – little hand-made compilations of aphorisms and explanations – which I like but would like to modify, possibly to give more of a range of possibilities. Whether or not I’ll come up with anything different is another story.

For other teachers: Am I the only one who struggles with assessments in this way? What are the best ways to assess your own assessments for fairness and consistency?

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