"I administered multiple choice exams from 1973-78 until I realized how trivial and insulting the questions were. Students needn’t have read the text; Cliffsnotes would’ve done nicely. The exams also encouraged laziness in myself. A quick scoring by machine, a few (or many) clickety-clacks, and the grade was recorded. And I hadn’t prepared the entire exam by myself—parts came from a testing service. In effect I was saying: “I don’t have time to evaluate your progress.” Since then, I have used essay questions that grow out of the discussions, lectures, and readings. I no longer teach to the exam but write the exam based on the teaching. My exams encourage students to develop and sustain a critical argument, identify and outline essentials, subordinate details, and develop a sense of perspective. I have learned to make exams a part of the learning process rather than a mere test of it."
--Dale Salwak, Citrus College, Glendora, California
35 years of teaching
Related NCTE Resources . . .
Standards for the Assessment of Reading and Writing. This booklet was prepared by a Joint Task Force on Assessment from NCTE and the International Reading Association.
NCTE Consultants Specializing in Assessment. Are you looking for meaningful ways to assess student learning and inform instructional practice? Would you like to begin using portfolios but you're not sure how to get started? NCTE consultants can help by presenting authentic, ongoing classroom-based assessment strategies to your staff.
Writing on Demand: Best Practices and Strategies for Success. Written by Leila Christenbury, Anne Ruggles Gere, and Kelly Sassi, this NCTE book will help you give your students the opportunity to develop the proficiency and confidence they need to succeed in on-demand writing situations without abandoning the principles behind an effective writing program.