Joe Bower: Assessment and Learning are not the same thing

“When we reduce something as magnificently messy as learning to a number, we always conceal far more than we ever reveal.”  —Joe Bower

Here is an excerpt from Assessment and Learning are not the same thing, by Joe Bower:

The most important things that children learn in school are not easily measured. The  most meaningful things in life may, in fact, be immeasurable. The good news, however, is that the most important and meaningful things that we want children to learn and do in school can always be observed and described. This is precisely why it is so important to remember that the root word for assessment is assidere which literally means ‘to sit beside.’ Assessment is not a spreadsheet — it’s a conversation.

So how does Bower recommend we assess?  Make student work visible through projects, performances, portfolios, blogs, reflections, etc.

debmeier and joe bower

On a sad side note, Bower passed away recently of cardiac arrest.  We can honor his life and contributions by reading his book or blog and applying his wisdom to re-think grades, tests, and our conceptions of education in general.

**Image courtesy of


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