Restorative Assessment: Strength-Based Practices That Support All Learners


Laura M. Greenstein

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    I grew up in a big city, the child of immigrants who barely achieved an eighth-grade education. I was fortunate in that they believed in the value of learning and provided the encouragement and support it took for me to succeed. This is not the case for many children growing up in poverty, who come from another country and culture, who move frequently, experience profound stress, or live with families for whom daily life is a struggle.

    Please understand that I am not passing judgment but rather relying on the data that say for millions of children, getting to school, paying attention, and monitoring behavior is a daily challenge. For these children, learning is not at the top of their priorities and testing is of little concern. I have listened to arguments that we should not identify subgroups, as it leads to labeling and ultimately discrimination. Nor do I believe that striving for equality where every student receives the same input (that is, curriculum, resources, and instruction) and is taught in the same way is the answer. Rather, this book is about equity: Providing the resources and supports that each child needs to succeed. It is about honoring the uniqueness of each child, giving credence to their needs, and responding in ways that educationally uplift them.

    Success looks different for every learner. For Monty, it means getting himself to school; for Natasha, it means finding joy in learning something new; and for Xavier, it requires a commitment to the hard work it takes to see incremental daily progress. These changes didn’t come easily for any of them, nor for the many other students who feel disconnected, disenfranchised, and overwhelmed.

    I am indebted to my advisory board for recommending this topic. Through their experiences working with at-risk students, the disengaged, and families living in poverty, they reminded me that, while failure is not an option, success is hard work that comes in small steps. I am grateful for their insights on why noncognitive attributes and dispositions are just as important as intellectual skills in helping every learner reach his or her potential. This book seeks to find that fine balance so that all students can be successful.



    This book would not be possible without the many teachers who took a leap into these divergent strategies and the untold number of students who realized success with these restorative approaches to assessment.

    I am also grateful for

    • the enduring support of family: Eric, my spouse of many decades, my children Andrew and Casey, and extended family everywhere who continue to inspire and support me;
    • the encouragement and insights of my advisory board;
    • and of course, the reviewers, project managers, and editors at Corwin.

    You have no idea the power you have; it delights my heart to encourage you to continue.

    —Maya Angelou


    Publisher’s Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    • D. Allan Bruner
    • Science Chair and Chemistry Teacher
    • Colton High School
    • Colton, OR
    • Sister Camille Anne Campbell
    • President
    • Mount Carmel Academy
    • New Orleans, LA
    • Tamara Daugherty
    • Art Teacher
    • Lakeville Elementary
    • Apopka, FL
    • Julie Frederick
    • Teacher, Nationally Board Certified
    • Seattle Public Schools
    • Seattle, WA
    • Renee Peoples
    • Teaching and Learning Coach
    • Swain West Elementary
    • Bryson City, NC
    • Diane Smith
    • Retired School Counselor
    • Smethport Area School District
    • Smethport, PA

    About the Author

    Laura M. Greenstein has been an educator for more than 30 years, serving as a teacher, department chair, and school leader in multiple grades and subjects. She combines this background with her experience as a school board member and professional development specialist to bring fresh and original ideas to educators about teaching, learning, and assessing. She consults with schools and districts, and presents at workshops and conferences locally and nationally. As an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut and the University of New Haven, she teaches human development and assessment to undergraduate and graduate students, and more recently, teaching, learning, and assessing with technology in the sixth-year digital literacy program. She has a BS from the University of Connecticut, an MS from the State University of New York at Oneonta in education, a sixth year from Sacred Heart University in administration, and an EdD from Johnson and Wales University in educational leadership. Her website ( is a valuable source of information on issues and topics in assessment. She is the author of What Teachers Really Need to Know About Formative Assessment from ASCD, Assessing 21st Century Skills with Corwin, and Sticky Assessment: Classroom Strategies to Amplify Student Learning with Routledge. You can follow her on Twitter @lauragteacher and e-mail her at

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