How can we fix this?

From Pedersen, Arslanyilmaz, & Williams (2007)1:

"However, as we began to scale up the program and teachers began to implement [the problem-based learning (PBL) unit] without our involvement, grading became an important issue and teachers wanted additional ‘‘gradable’’ products. They  requested two things in particular: an objective item test that could be used at the end of the program, and worksheets or activities that could be used during the program as ‘‘check-points’’ or to generate ‘‘daily grades.’’ We complied with teachers’ requests, despite some concerns that these instruments would alter the nature of PBL. A twenty-item test was developed that used a modified multiple choice format that allowed for multiple correct answers within a single item. Our reasoning in using this format was that it required a greater understanding of a given concept than a standard multiple choice format, and did not facilitate guessing or a process of elimination approach. Teachers were strongly dissatisfied with this format, arguing that it was difficult for students this age and that, because it differed from the format used on standardized tests, that it might confuse students. They wanted standard multiple choice items with one correct answer and distracters that could be quickly eliminated."

Is this mad desire for grading & multiple-choice assessment driven by the way our institutions are set up (i.e. NCLB, etc.)? How teachers view what assessment should look like? How do we change this? I'm aware of this problem and I still feel the pressure/need to have grades and old-fashioned assessments. Is there any hope here?

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  1. That is: Pedersen, S., Arslanyilmaz, A., & Williams, D. (2009). Teachers' assessment-related local adaptations of a problem-based learning module. Education Technology Research Development, 27, 229-249.  (back)