Evaluation in Schools: What Does it Really Mean?

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In my experience in various classrooms I have seen many times that “Not everything that matters is measurable and not everything that is measurable matters” (Elliot Eisner, 2005 in Auger, 49). Being in many classrooms from grades 1-5 I have seen that some of the most important and significant improvements seen in the students were often immeasurable. I saw students with special needs zipping up their jacket for the first time, or students who could not focus to complete a task, focus for the first time, even if they still struggled with the task. Although students’ success is measured by marking them with a letter grade, success such as focusing and trying to for the first time cannot be measured or translated into a letter grade. For a student who can’t focus, this is a big success and the most important step in them beginning to successfully complete tasks.

As well, students are marked on the various subjects and given a letter grade, but some of the most important lessons students can learn and exhibit are related to emotional intelligence. I saw a young student show compassion and reach out to a student who was hurt and try to help however they could, and it amazed me to see such selfless concern at such a young age, when their perception of the world is so focused on them and what and how they feel.  

I saw students learn by doing, and saw them fail several time and keep trying until they succeeded and the feeling of success they felt was visible on their face. Students are all different, as they learn in different ways, know different things and function at different levels. Some learn faster than others and it is important to allow students to learn through doing and not compare students. If a student couldn’t read a month ago but is not reading three letter words then it is a success for them even if most of the class is reading full sentences. These are the types of things that matter but which cannot be measured in a way that illustrates their true worth.


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