If one of the most important things in a Christian school is to nurture faith through the ability of a student to apply a Christian perspective (or worldview) to contemporary life, then we should make sure that our assessments are top notch and will drive our instruction. Additionally we need to make sure that the assessments involve the higher level thinking skills of application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
What follows is an excellent example of this type of faith integrated assessment question for 8th grade science (thanks to Kristyn Kamps and Lloyd Dozeman from Holland Christian):
Letter to the Editor:
God included fire as part of His creation; its effects can be not only good but necessary. However, wildfires can also create wide scale destruction and death as did the fires of 1910. On January 4, 2002, CNN ran the following story: “Wildfires which were started by multiple lightning strikes early last month continue to burn out of control. They continue to wreak havoc across Australia’s most populated state and are expected to rage into next week. The largest fire has burned about 160,000 acres of bone-dry forest, killed animals, and created millions of dollars in property damage. Nothing good can come of this tragedy…”
Using what you have learned about forest fires, write a reaction to the CNN story using the following format.
Heading: Your reaction should be addressed to the editor of the article; begin your letter “Dear Editor.” (1 point)
Paragraph 1: Your first paragraph should explain who you are and why you are writing. (2 points)
Paragraph 2: Describe conditions that cause wildfires to spread. (3 points)
Paragraph 3: From what you’ve learned about what God created fire to be (good) and the issues people face when dealing with wildfires (bad), give detailed examples of how wildfires can be BOTH good and bad. (6 points)
Paragraph 4: Choose a position: either AGREE with the statements from the CNN article or DISAGREE and give 2 reasons for your position. (4 points)
Closing: Be sure to sign your letter with a closing (“Sincerely,”) and your name. (1 point)
I really like this assessment because it asks the student to apply a perspective to a real life scenario. Since it is a letter to the editor, it is also ready to be shared with others who may have agreed without thinking too deeply that “nothing good can come out of this tragedy…” – this statement reflects the nihilistic view that often pops up in media and needs to be countered by Christians who believe that we have a redeeming God who can bring good out of evil. This assessment asks students to use higher-level skills and apply a faith perspective to the situation. Are you using these kinds of assessments with your students? Are you willing to share them with others? If so, I would be happy to begin a “Quality Faith Integrated Assessments” folder in our CSI Member Community Center.