Inside the Black Box

Reflection for my Curriculum & Instruction (C&I) reading of:  Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards through Classroom Assessment, by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam, Kings College, 1998.


This article rocked! It was chock full of detailed reasons why summative assessment only is not working and misses the mark. Formative assessments, when done right, unlock the true potential in students which typically remains untapped, and forever sealed behind a lock of “I’m can’t do this / I’m not smart or capable / I always fail” thinking.

While employing formative assessments can be challenging, doing so should revitalize teachers when students who before felt completely lost in a subject understand where they may have had misunderstanding or misconceptions and later succeed in problems they previously felt destined to fail.

I especially liked the concept of empowering students via self-assessment to aid in guiding formative assessment and overall instruction. This is a powerful method to develop a student’s ability to reflect upon themselves, the teacher, the concepts being taught, and what they may, or may not, understand. It gives them an active role in the learning process as opposed to the traditional passive role, where they more often feel subject to the whims of the teacher or their past difficulties learning.

Lastly, the arguments the authors make align well with what we’ve learned, and are learning, in other courses such as “think-pair-share,” group work, belief that all pupils can achieve, etc. This strengthens their arguments immensely.


About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Secondary math teacher teaching math intervention, algebra 1, honors precalculus, and AP Calculus AB. I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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