Sometimes I approach my work sort of like the way doctors approach theirs: Above all, do no harm.
Tests are hard enough for students without our setting up unnecessary roadblocks. I like to think about writing tests that are transparent--that give a straightforward view of student performance. No obstacles. Which means sticking to all the item writing rules and writing simply and clearly.
But last week, I received an email message that reminded me that some of the work that I do--writing curriculum and assessment materials for intervention with struggling readers-- actually helps kids in a significant way, and that was a very welcome message.
To be a tiny part of a second chance for a kid who's at risk for dropping out of school, to be one of many people working on materials that will help this child become a competent reader--maybe help this child experience some rare success in a setting where he has only failed before--to just do that much is to do good. It's important to feel that one's work has meaning.