“A major flaw of quantitative measures is that administrators place too much emphasis on counting things with little regard for their quality.” Quoted from The School Library Media Manager, 4th ed. by Blanche Woolls in my mind perfectly sums up the problem with all assessments. It doesn’t matter the field, whether education or manufacturing or whatever, those in charge in that field are only interested in the numbers. People are secondary. I personally can not get over the reasoning behind only looking at the numbers and then I realize that the main reason for concentrating on the numbers is to show “solid” proof in the eyes of the administration that they have succeeded. People are secondary.
Perhaps I’m jaded because of my past experiences with assessments. I feel like I’m a product of guinea pig state assessments. I could have been the greatest students, but if I did not assess well then nothing else matter. Which by the way, I’m a terrible test taker. The library assessment procedure is supposed to be different and I understand this, but the word assessment or test leaves a bad taste in my mouth and a tightness in my chest.
So why are people so concerned about just the numbers? Because numbers are emotionless and verifiable, and it would require too much work to creatively prove that a job is well done. Even more effort is required to actually go into the area that is being assessed and personally see the progress.
Woolls does mention that the only way relevance can be assessed is actually visit with teachers and ask them if the material the library provides is relevant. Why can we not assess most if not all areas of the workplace this way? Open those lines of communication and get to know the people who are affected by the decisions made by those in charge!
Personally I like the portfolio method, or the authentic assessment method. It may take a little more work to understand what is being accomplished because the authentic assessment requires creativity and a thinking outside of the box mentality. However, when the assessor can visually and emotionally understand what is being done, isn’t that more powerful than looking at a bunch of numbers?
This is my humble opinion, but there is no gain in showing what a person has acquired if the person or organization’s only goal is to show what they have. At the end of the assessment all that is left is something that is empty of knowledge and understanding. Much more can be gained by watching, interviewing, and recognizing when real learning has taken place.
Out of all the assessments I looked though this semester, I think Buffy Hamilton has found a very nice balance. Because despite my preference for authentic assessment, I understand that there is a need to see the numbers also.