One of the many bogus questions that teachers have to put up with these days from laymen, business school grads and politicians who think teachers are just a pack of wooly-headed layabouts, and other teachers who have drunk the kool-aid, is "Yes, this is all very interesting, but how will it be assessed," by which they mean, of course, how will it be reduced to a standardized, machine-coded, mulitple choice instrument of torture whose results can be used to draw all the wrong conclusions.

But the act of authentic assessment, though not the focus or goal of education, can, in the hands of a master teacher, lead both teacher and students into productive consolidation of knowledge and understanding both of the material and of the students themselves in a way that actually furthers education, rather than retarding it. Such assessments can also help other teachers focus and improve their own practice by seeing examples of where a course of study can lead.

Pete recently sent me a superb example of such an assessment, which he received from Ann Whiting, Grade 7 teacher at the International School of Kuala Lumpur and long-time investigator of words with the help of Real Spelling. The responses from students are inspiring in that they show the kind of deep and precise thinking to which a course of word study can lead -- not just a knowledge of words (though that would be a high enough goal for any of us, and higher than most schooling will ever reach) but a power and clarity of thought that will serve these students well in any any future endeavors. Ann's students are not just receiving an education: they are becoming educated people, in the more broad, and now alas old-fashioned, sense that Richard Mitchell put so well:

The thoughtful life, which alone deserves the name of true education, calls for the ability to distinguish Reason from rubbish, the ability to know and judge the self and do something about it, and the ability to distinguish the better from the worse.

Here is Ann's blank assessment.

Here is the assessment with student responses and some notes from Pete.

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