Season 2: Episode 13 – Hacking Assessment – Interview with Starr Sackstein [Podcast]

Hacking-Assessment-eBook-cover-683x1024In this episode, we are excited for you to hear from Starr Sackstein, author of Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless in a Traditional Grades Classroom,  The Power of Questioning: Opening Up the World of Student Inquiry and several other books.

Starr Sackstein currently works at World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing, NY as a high school English and Journalism teacher where her students run a multi-media news outlet at In 2011, the Dow Jones News Fund honored Starr as a Special Recognition Advisor and 2012 Education Updated recognized her as an outstanding educator. Currently, Starr has thrown out grades, teaching students that learning isn’t about numbers, but about the development of skills and the ability to articulate that growth.

In 2012, Starr tackled National Board Certification in an effort to reflect on her practice and grow as an educational English facilitator. After a year of closely looking at her work with students, she achieved this honor. Starr is a certified Master Journalism Educator through the Journalism Education Association and serves as the New York State Director to the Association to help advisers in New York better grow journalism programs.

Here is what we talked about:

  • What is the beautiful question behind your book: Hacking Assessment?
  • Why should we move away from grades and toward assessment as conversation? What do you see as the benefits for learners and teachers?
  • Tell us a little about your own transition in thinking about assessment. What experiences and reflections did you have that brought you to where you are today?
  • Talk about some of the ways you and your learners have used technology for communication with each other and parents.
  • Your book is full of practical advice. What are some first steps teachers and leaders might take to move toward a no-grade classroom?
  • A focus on feedback changes the use of time for learners and teacher. Talk to us about maximizing time in a no-grades classroom.
  • In your school you students still receive end-of-marking-period grades. Describe for us the process of assigning a report card grade. Talk to us about transitioning from a report card to portfolio assessments.
  • What “beautiful questions” are you currently thinking about?

Join the Conversation

Each episode we leave you with a couple of questions to think about…with the idea of provoking conversation. This episode’s question:

  1. How will you prepare to move towards a no-grades classroom?
  2. How can you share your work to help move the assessment and grading conversation to the forefront of progressive educational reform?

Explore Additional Resources

Connect with Starr on Twitter – @MsSackstein

Connect with Starr on Facebook – Starr Sackstein, MJE Facebook Fan page

Check out Starr’s Youtube Channel for all things Throwing out Grades

Visit Starr’s blog –

EdWeek blog: Work In Progress Latest blogpost (1/25/16): Let’s Replace Transcripts with Portfolios

If you have a question or suggestion for a future episode, please click on the red Send Voicemail button on the right and leave us a message!

Ask us a question or suggest an idea for a future episode

If you have a question or suggestion for a future episode, please click on the red Send Voicemail button on the right and leave us a message!

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