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ERIC Number: EJ1047971
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0145-9635
Assessment and the Learning Brain: What the Research Tells Us
Hardiman, Mariale; Whitman, Glenn
Independent School, v73 n2 Win 2014
If you really want to see how innovative a school is, inquire about its thinking and practices regarding assessment. For the students, does the mere thought of assessment trigger stress? Do the teachers rely heavily on high-stakes, multiple-choice, Bell Curve-generating tests? Or do the students seem relaxed and engaged as teachers experiment with new forms of assessment designed to support deep and lasting learning? Clearly, there continues to be a place for traditional assessments of learning that prepare students for standardized tests such as ERBs, AP exams, SATs, and college midterm exams. However, it is believed that independent schools, unrestrained from the chains of public education policies, can take on an important leadership role in transforming K-12 assessments from a mere measure of short-term learning to a crucial component of the teaching and learning process. In this system of assessment, learning becomes personalized, encouraging students to adopt a mindset focused on discovery and engagement rather than grades and test scores. Most important, in such a system, the sharp lines between teaching, learning, and testing diminish. This shift in thinking about assessment is a central issue for all schools. As the research strongly suggests, when students focus on mastery of learning rather than on their performance on tests, they significantly increase their intrinsic motivation for learning. This article describes several new forms of assessment that can now be found in an increasing number of independent schools today. As designers of their classes, teachers decide the appropriate assessments for a certain body of knowledge or skill. But what research regarding choice and engagement shows is that teachers should also respect the ability of students to make decisions about how they can best demonstrate their understanding (as well as their confusion). That is why it is essential that teachers and educational leaders have ongoing professional development about how the brain learns. The Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning ( at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Maryland was established to do just this--enhance teacher quality through training in the principles and strategies of neuroeducation. When teachers understand the principles from educational neuroscience, they expand their teaching repertoire, including the ways they measure a student's knowledge, skills, and understanding.
National Association of Independent Schools. 1620 L Street NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-793-6701; Tel: 202-973-9700; Fax: 202-973-9790; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maryland