Unannounced Assessment Poster

All of my assessments are unannounced.  I am a passionate supporter of the value of proficiency assessments given at any time without warning.  My assessments take on many forms – reading and answering questions, listening and answering questions, writing an essay or story, translating sentences, defining terms, live or phone interviews – and are never exactly the same as the previous assessment.  I always prepare myself to defend my position against any opposition, but there has been very little opposition over the years.  Most students, parents and administrators understand the point and agree with the policy.  I do my best to explain it clearly at the beginning of the year.  Also, most students feel well-prepared for the assessments and are more successful than if I were to give them long grammar tests preceded by study guides.

However despite my explanations and passion, I do sometimes get complaints from students, typically from students who are new to my class.  They’ll say

Why didn’t you tell us we were going to have a test? 

I feel like I often stumble through the answer and do not take advantage of the opportunity to reinforce why I do what I do.  Thus, I created the following sign to be hung in the classroom.  Now when I get a question about unannounced assessments, I can kindly refer the student to the sign or read it aloud for everyone to be reminded of the system.

Link to sign: Unannounced Assessment Poster

Bryan, is it true that ALL of your assessments are unannounced?

Yes

What about chapter tests?

What’s a chapter test?

It’s a test that is given at the end of a chapter.

What’s a chapter?

What about semester exams or state tests?

Ok, you got me there.  Students do know about semester exams (dates determined by the district) and exams required by the university for dual enrollment, but I do not consider those to be MY assessments.

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3 Responses to Unannounced Assessment Poster

  1. I like the post idea–now I can just point at it with my paser when the whiny questioning starts. Thanks for thinking of putting the argument for unannounced tests all in one spot. I have altered it a bit and put it up in my room–I am giving you credit though.

  2. Megan says:

    I so wish I could do this. I gave an unannounced assessment once, after explaining at the beginning of the year that it is always a possibility that assessments could be unannounced, and my principal told me to “quit punishing the kids.”

    • bryankandel says:

      Bummer! I would say don’t give up the fight. Continue to try to convince your principal of the value of unannounced assessments. Then if you get a chance to try it again, guarantee success early. Make the assessments something on which any student who has even slightly engaged himself in class could do well. Build confidence first, then increase rigor. I know, that’s easier said than done, especially with opposition from administration.

      Also, I have found that a system in which all assessments are unannounced works better than some announced and others not. If some assessments are announced, students will start to depend on pre-warning and get upset when they don’t get it.

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