This post is also crossposted on Medium.
Okay, how do we blow it up? There’s always a way to do that.
— Han Solo, The Force Awakens
One of the more awkward scenes in The Force Awakens is when Admiral Statura (Ken Leung from the television show Lost) hypothesizes that, because the Starkiller Base sucks in so much energy from stars, it must have a “thermal oscillator."
“If we can destroy that oscillator,” he theorizes, thinking out loud, “it might destabilize the core and cripple the weapon.”
“Maybe the planet,” Major Ematt chimes in.
If this is true (and it is all true), the Starkiller Base will be the most easily destroyed galactic superweapon in the history of galactic superweapons.
Just shoot the thermal oscillator. Boom.
Like the interplanetary weapons developed by the Empire and its evil offshoots, poor assessment and grading practices mostly suffer from the same, predictable fatal flaws. All take their eyes off learning, preferring instead to use assessment and grades as levers to achieve behavioral ends. Grading and assessment experts like Ken O’Connor, Thomas Guskey, and Rick Wormeli first helped me recognize these shortcomings in my own approach. Awareness of these ideas is becoming increasingly widespread.
Still, in many schools poor grading and assessment practices persist. Here are three of the worst:
- Penalties within the academic grade
- Group grades
- Random projects that don’t demonstrate anything
Practice #1: Penalties within the academic grade
Compare, if you will, the stiff, regimented fashion sense of the Empire with the tousled, shabby chic of the Rebel Alliance. In the Empire, you probably get force choked for wearing your hair too long or adding too much flair to your olive grey tunic. If you’re a Storm Trooper, you’re forced to trot about in hot, clumsy armor that provides exactly zero protection from laser blasts.