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Taco or Burrito? One Texan’s View of Assessment

Taco or Burrito? One Texan’s View of Assessment

In Texas, there is an age-old debate among lovers of Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican food.  What makes a taco, a taco, and what makes a burrito, a burrito?  One argument claims that tacos are folded, and burritos are rolled.  Still another claims that it is the size of the tortilla, with the smaller of the two being the taco.  Others say that if the tortilla is corn, it’s a taco and if it is flour, it’s a burrito.  Still, some culinary purists will say that the authentic Mexican food is the taco, and burritos are Tex-Mex.  Aren’t they both just seasoned meaty/eggy/cheesy goodness inside a tortilla? Frankly, I don’t care what you call it, as long as it’s delicious.

So, why am I talking about Mexican food in a blog post about assessment?  I’m glad you asked.  The Taco vs. Burrito debate reminds me a great deal of the assessment vs. grade discussion.  We hear often times in assessment circles that grades are not assessments.  What?  Is not a grade something given to evaluate the student’s performance on an assignment or exam?  When you evaluate student performance, do you not assess?  Assessment purists out there might be ready to fling their refried beans at me, but I have to argue that saying a grade is not assessment is like saying a taco is not a burrito.

Consider this for the sake of argument:  Let’s just say that we are going with the rolled vs. folded definition of our aforementioned Mexican food staple.  AND…..Let’s say that assessment=taco and grade=burrito. SO, do my taco and burrito have the same spicy guiso (a personal favorite) and fluffy flour tortilla components? Yes.  Do both grades and assessments evaluate student performance? Yes.  Now, I must iterate that in order to satisfy assessment requirements of accreditors, you cannot simply list your grades.  However, if, for that grade, you provide the rubric by which it was assigned and, therefore, have explained what that number actually MEANS…..Boom! Assessment!  So……….if I am served a burrito and I unroll it and fold it in half, am I now eating a taco?  I’m not sure.  But I’m sure my taste buds will dance just the same!

Perhaps instead of tacos vs. burritos, we should just call them delicious food in a tortilla. AND, perhaps, instead of fighting the grades vs. assessment quandary, we should merely consider them evaluations of student performance.

(Crystal Braden is a proud Texan for assessment simplicity. No tacos or burritos were harmed in the writing of this post)

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