Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Alberta advertising undermining assessment

This kind of political advertising undermines the progressive assessment practices that the province of Alberta has been working on for years.

It makes little sense for teachers to work their tales of to improve their assessment practices in ways that provide children with non-graded information that they require to improve only to have the province tell parents to look for graded feedback.

To be clear, this post has nothing to do with the $6.5 billion invested in education.

It can be hard enough for parents to accept that school for their children might look and feel different than when they went to school, and it makes it really really hard to influence change when the government holds up traditions, that we are trying to change, as signals for success.

Someone reading this post might think "oh come on, Joe. Lighten up." To this I respond with: 6.5 billion is a lot of money, and the education of our children is nothing to take lightly. Many parents work so hard at their jobs and parenting their children that they don't have much time or effort in their day to think about pedagogy, so when we do try and catch their eye with advertisements like this, we better be acutely aware of what we are telling them.

In this case, we are telling them to look for something that some progressive Alberta teachers have been trying to move beyond.

For more on the research against grading:

Grading and the fear of failure

Grading and commenting

The Case Against Grades


  1. Yes! And advertising is extremely powerful. I wonder how students interpret it...

  2. And all those students who don't get an A+? There's something wrong with them and/or their school and/or their teacher. I mean if $6.5 billion can't help them what can?

  3. Not to mention that research on formative assessment definitively shows that having kids raise their hands to answer questions (as they are in the picture) is not among best teaching practices. But, it's what parents know... *sigh*

  4. Great point about hand raising. I should have picked up on that. Thanks for commenting.


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