I saw this video on YouTube a little while ago, and I asked my friend and colleague Ken O’Connor if it would be OK to post it on my site. Not only did he say “yes”, but he sent these kind words to accompany it.
Almost exactly 21 years ago (May 17, 18, 19, 1993) my school district directed me to attend a “Training of Classroom Assessment Trainers” led by Rick Stiggins in Toronto. At that time I had been Curriculum Coordinator for Geography for the Scarborough Board of Education with some responsibility for assessment for just over three years and I had previously spent 23 years in the classroom in six schools in two countries teaching mainly Geography from grades 7-12.
Those three days changed my life because I realized that I knew almost nothing about quality classroom assessment. Rick shone a light on things that should have been part of my pre-service training and my in-service professional development but hadn’t been. Immediately after those three days I dedicated myself to becoming assessment literate and helping teachers to use assessment for learning.
In the middle of 1994 I read an article about grading that made little sense to me. I wrote a short response in which I suggested that the editor of the journal contact Rick to get a “real” expert opinion. She then challenged me twice to write an article, so I developed eight guidelines for grading that would make school more about learning and not just point accumulation. The article was published in May 1995 and I started doing workshops based on the article. Rick kindly invited me to present at the July 1996 Assessment Training Institute Conference in Portland, Oregon, and the rest, as they say, is history. I have subsequently written three books and presented staff development sessions in 44 states, 9 provinces, 1 territory, and 17 countries outside North America, and at every ATI conference (Summer and Winter) since 1998. I owe it all to Rick but what is even more valuable to me is the wonderful personal and professional friendship I have with Rick; he is an amazing man – caring for all and passionate about teachers doing the best they can for every student.
Meeting Rick, learning from him, and having him as friend makes me a very fortunate man.
Ken O’Connor, a.k.a. The Grade Doctor, is an independent consultant who specializes in issues related to the communication of student achievement, especially grading and reporting. Through books and articles, presentations and working with small groups Ken helps individuals, schools and school districts to improve communication about student achievement.