Rethinking Assessment – Goal 2 of the 30 Days Challenge

For goal 2 of the 30 Days Challenge Shelly Terrell invites us to take a step away from numbers and traditional assessment and re-evaluate value. I decided it would be a good opportunity for trying to do a video post. So here it is:



15 comments on “Rethinking Assessment – Goal 2 of the 30 Days Challenge

  1. seburnt says:

    First, from what I’ve read about the school you work for, it sounds like quite a progressive and forward thinking place. You seem very lucky to have that type of support!

    Second, e-folios are an excellent way to give students the opportunity to seriously reflect on their learning in an interesting and fun way. When they submit them, how do you assess them? I think I missed that part.

    Third and most importantly, the thumbnail for this video is ace. =)

    • Hi Tyson πŸ™‚

      Yes, the school where I work is very progressive and forward thinking, I’m really lucky to work here. AS for how we assess them, you didn’t miss it, there was no time. I had done a long video before this one, where I explained the whole portfolio process in details (it turned out to be almost 13 minutes long) but when it came to uploading it, Youtube had it cut to its first 6 minutes, so I did it again, limiting myself to 6 minutes, which made me rush a little bit and cut down on a lot of the information I meant to give.

      But we have developed a set of rubrics, for each skill. When we click on “evaluate efolio” this set of rubrics comes up and we just have to click on the appropriate rubric for each student in each skill – they’re automatically transformed into grades and made into a report card, where students see the concepts (Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor, Fail). We also add the personalized comments for each student.

      The system we developed for the efolio is awesome. We can leave comments and correct students’ work. For the corrections, all we have to do is click on the part that is wrong and a correction code list comes up, we select the color designated to the type of mistake and that’s it. The student’s friends can’t see the corrections and the students are expected to check the codes and make the necessary corrections.

      As for the thumbnail… yeah I know. I actually considered recording the whole thing again πŸ˜› How come we can’t choose the thumbnail image if we want?

  2. Vicky Loras says:

    Hi Ceci!

    I loved your video post – and it was so nice, apart from listening to how your school works with the excellent idea of electronic portfolios, to hear and see you!

    I love to hear about the great collaboration going on in your school, first of all among the teachers and then with the students. I absolutely love the idea of electronic portfolios for many reasons: first of all, the school moves with the times and upgrades the way traditional portfolios have been made up to now; second, the kids get the opportunity to use them as a medium for evaluating themselves and their peers – I really like that, and they can learn from both looking at their own work but also the other students’ work.

    Great post,sis! Keep ’em comin’!


    • Hi Vicky!

      Like every other person in world I hate my voice when I hear it recorded, hence my reluctance in doing a video post πŸ˜‰ But I’m glad you liked it!

      You’re right when you say that using electronic portfolios as the tool to assess student learning means the school is moving with times, adapting to the new technology-bound world we live in. The school where I work makes big investments in technology to be used inside and outside the classroom – as support to the teachers and the rest of the staff. I believe refusing to accept that technology and not trying to keep up with it is a mistake, because our students are surrounded by it in their lives, jobs and even social lives. How can we ignore that? Besides it enables a much more authentic and creative contribution from the students, since it holds all types of medium. But evaluating through portfolios hasn’t been easy – even when we started with paper portfolios, because people are too used to traditional assessment.

      This semester is actually the first one we have absolutely no kind of standardized testing. Up til now we had pop quizzes, testing students’ grammar structures, vocabulary, etc These pop quizzes had a much smaller weigh in the students’ final grades, but they were there. This semester, after we announced the news and sent letters explaining it to the parents, we had a real uproar from the parents, questioninng how valid an evaluation without tests could be, how exactly were we going to check students’ learning and progress. It’s hard being part of the first group to try and change how thins (in this case assessment) has been done for years, especially when all regular schools still use standardized tests (and only them) to evaluate students. Which is a pity, because not every parent is able to see how empowering a portfolio assessment is, how it allows the students to have a much better view of their own learning, they discover how they learn… they take ownership of their learning and the progress they make in it.

      Thanks for the great feedback sis πŸ™‚ I promise to try to keep them coming!


  3. DaveDodgson says:

    Another joins the ranks of the v-loggers! Good call πŸ™‚ Keeping it brief is the main challenge, isn’t it?

    It was interesting to hear how your school implements it’s e-portfolio system. I have one question for you (the same I always have for any school running portfolio programmes) – how do you ensure the work collected isn’t dominated by writing? How are other skills like speaking incorporated? (OK, that’s two questions!)

    P.S. On YouTube, if you go to ‘My Videos’ and then choose ‘edit’ for the relevant clip, you’ll then go to a screen where you’ll find a choice of three thumbnails to pick for your clip. Dave’s tech-support team strikes again πŸ™‚

    • seburnt says:

      D’oh. Dave, you beat me to the punch!

    • Dave, you have no idea how many takes it took me to arrive at that one 6-minute video! It’s a LOT harder than it looks! Keeping it brief is awful! You start talking and then when you look at the counter more than 10 minutes have gone by…

      As for your question, writing does end up having a larger representation than the other skills, because that’s the skill they use to describe the other activities. We have had considerable improvement in this after we adopted the electronic portfolio, especially after the new version (which incorporated some elements of social networking in it and improved the editor). Now students can embed or attach all kinds of media files (well, some they can only attach). So for the speaking tag (for each post they write they have to choose the tag for it, which are the 4 main skills + projects) they should always do audio files. Otherwise, how else are we going to use their portfolio as basis for assessing their progress and learning. After a few moanings and groans, and adding an option where they can choose for a post to be seen only by their teacher, not by their friends, they seem to have made peace with it. πŸ™‚

      Thank for the tech support. You’re always rescuing me from my tech-stupicity. I changed the thumbnail – it still hasn’t changed in the post, but Youtube says it can take about 6 hours for it to be finished, so… I’m waiting!

  4. I was fascinated to hear how you use technology for assesment and have done away with standard tests completely. I didn’t quite understand about your school, though. Is this an afternoon school for English in addition to what is taught in the regular school?

    Kudos on the video post – you were great!

    • The school I work at is a language school Naomi, quite common in Brazil. They are private schools that a great part of the population go to in order to learn English. It has no connectioon to regular schools, it’s an extra curricular activity. They are taught English at school too, but it’s usually very grammar-based and students want to be fluent by the time they enter the university, so they attend private schools like mine for that. ABA is actually a binational center, which means it has a close connection to the American Embassy. Our students come to study English twice a week, for 1h15 minuntes each time (or just once a week for 2h30 minutes). (If you want to have an idea, the school’s website is

      I’m really happy with the no-test assessment – so far it means more work, but I think we’ll get used to it. And it’s much more fair, it involves the students…. I hope this is the direction most schools are going.

      Thanks for the positive feedback Naomi! πŸ™‚

  5. Ceri Jones says:

    Hi Ceci!
    A great post, as always πŸ™‚
    I love your eportfolio system, it make so much sense. It’s a shame it’s so hard to sell to the parents. And I love your enthusiasm and your commitment. You’ve inspired me to try and propose a much smaller scale system for the classes I’m working with at the moment for next year (if we get invited back that is!). I’ll be coming to you for advice! Hope that’s OK πŸ˜‰
    By the way, love seeing and hearing you and really looking forward to hearing and seeing you in RL in Brighton in three weeks time!

    • Hi Ceri πŸ™‚

      The portfolio really is a fantastic tool for assessing students. My enthusiasm comes from having seen the result, how it works beautifully once the students buy the idea. And yes, it is hard to sell to parents, but it is expected – most people are very reluctant when it comes to major changes. We’ve had a very gradual shift, it’s been in progress for the past 8 years. But this semester, when we took formal testing completely out we really had to hold the fort. So far so good… let’s see when the midterm evaluations come out – right after IATEFl ;-).

      I love that I’ve inspired you to try something similar – count on me for any advice and support you want or need. I’ll love to spread the joy!

      Can’t wait to settle the bet I lost to you in Brighton and see you in RL. See you in a couple of weeks!

  6. Lu Bodeman says:

    Hi Cecilia.
    I was going through the eltchat materials online and noticed several of your posts, which in turn led me to your blog. Excellent stuff.

    It is wonderful, especially, to acknowledge how nice it is that, regardless of school or methodology one defends, that the blogsphere is so constructive in creating such a collaborative and interesting community in the field of Education. Makes me happy and proud. Clap clap to you. πŸ™‚

    • Hi Lu,

      I was sooo happy to see your comment! Thank you for your kind words about the blog. I wish I could dedicate more time to it, and get so many of the unfinished posts I have stored done and published… And you’re so right about the blogosphere, how democratic, collaborative it is. I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible, met many wonderful people who have helped me reflect upon my practice, question values and beliefs, change… It really means a lot to me that you liked it.


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