What about qualitative assessment?

Teachers assess for multiple audiences. The best way to assess for grading, a teacher’s own use, and for administrators may each be distinct. But more time on assessment means less time for teaching and learning. How might an educator balance these?

What about qualitative assessment of musical growth? Music teachers could document student process and product with recordings and written comments.

For ensembles, this could mean recording rep once a week, as well as final performances. These recordings would hopefully clearly demonstrate to administrators students’ musical growth from sight-reading to performance, as well as across ensembles such as 6th, 7th, and 8th grade band. It would also enable the educator to formally track what is and is not being learned and what to focus on next. This may include evaluating the extent to which musical goals for a week, concert cycle, or school year were met, and then making new goals for the next.

Similarly, for individual musicians this could mean collecting a portfolio of performances and compositions, as well as snapshots of the process that led to each. The teacher’s comments could serve both as feedback for the student and formal assessment to track what is and is not being learned by each student over time. This could be integrated with or separate from how students are graded.

All final performances are worth documenting if for no other reason than the future reference and enjoyment of all involved. Once a unit is over, snapshots would have less value to students and educators, but keeping a record of these could be valuable for administrators, if you are able to help them understand what it is and its value.

Perhaps there is a way to quantify these assessments to be useful for the educator and/or administrators. Perhaps not.

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Categorized as Learning

By Patrick Hockberger

Patrick Hockberger is a music education masters student at the University of Illinois. At Northwestern University he received a BM in Music Composition and an MA in Sound Arts & Industries. At the Chicago Park District he taught preschool music, voice, piano, guitar, and wrote and music directed children's musicals. Prior to that he interned at 98.7 WFMT, coached middle school track & field, and worked for six years with composer Paul Caldwell at the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago.