FileMaker app redefining student assessment

Posted by Justin Hesser on May 19, 2014

When it comes to education, student assessment is a major tool to help schools and educators ensure that young people are acquiring the knowledge needed to meet today's challenges. In many instances, this means standardized testing, which is falling out of favor with more and more educators, as the belief is that these tests are actually counter-productive as teachers end up more concerned teaching for the test instead of providing a well-rounded education.

However, there are other tools out there that provide a more continuous assessment and guidance of students throughout their education. A recent article from the Sydney Morning Herald profiled former teacher and educational software developer Frank Ryder and Apple Distinguished Educator Gary Bass. The duo is responsible for a mobile application called Rubrica, which runs on an iPad and is powered by FileMaker.

Rubrica is a rubrics manager and tool for teachers. Rubrics have been around the educational landscape for decades and interest in them has increased in recent years as demand on teachers and students has increased. They help teachers deal with problems by creating a continual assessment and responding to the widely varying needs of students individually, in class or in a learning space. This helps educators better understand what students are good at, where trouble areas are and how performances might improve.

''The whole idea of student learning is that you want generous effort and improvement,'' Bass told the news source. ''You don't want minimal effort to achieve a desired score; not just get a score, but put in value and interpretation. Assessment is about the standard you achieve, not when you did it [as a single-shot examination shows]."

Bass went on to say that this is created by developers who had access to a high level of technology. However, there was a feeling that educational software was being used for trivial programs when it could be used to improve a number of things, most noticeably assessments.

This change is needed because the traditional way of handling assessments no longer works. For a process that has such high stakes, it is onerous and time consuming, while there is technology available that can make the process easier and more effective. It makes the need for a single standardize text obsolete.

''An example is dance,'' Ryder told the news source. ''It's more qualitative than quantitative. But you can use a rubric with a set of descriptive things that the assessor is looking for, and so an assessment can be done."

The App works with FileMaker Go and runs on an iPad. It allows teachers to load their student roster, track their progress against the rubric and leave comments. Completed assessments can be printed or transferred to other teachers and schools if the student was to be moved. Everything is stored locally, meaning there is no possibility of a network or cloud breach gaining access to the information.

This move by Bass and Ryder show what is possible when the latest technology is used to improve an older system. With the help of a FileMaker developer, any business can start taking steps to create a custom piece of software and redefine a traditional process.