Regarding a growth mindset and assessment

May 18, 2023
 | By 
Ed Cunningham

Is it possible to foster a growth mindset in the presence of high-stakes testing? I would argue that it is, so long as we keep ourselves grounded in the purpose of assessment.

We need to determine what we want our students to learn and how we will know when they have learned it. Based on this, we can plan for interventions and enrichment activities. When we approach our work as social scientists, we know that assessment is necessary to the process. We use assessment as a diagnostic tool for learning.

When we discuss our district and campus assessment programs, internally or with parents, what is our focus? Do we need to practice for The Test at the end of the year? Are we building testing stamina? Do we administer the released state test to find which students' scores to worry about? Or do we build assessments, as professional learning communities, with a focus on learning standards being taught through a guaranteed and viable curriculum?

If our foci are centered exclusively on the summative diagnoses of the tools by which we are measured for accountability, I would argue we are binding ourselves to a fixed mindset anchored in external validation. However, for those of us who take our results and use them for program evaluation and targeted intervention/enrichment as a part of continuous improvement processes, high-stakes testing can be just another source of evidence leading to growth.

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