Assessment-literate educators play a critical role in the development of a balanced assessment system. Creating high-quality assessments for use in individual classrooms, across grades, or across schools is important for getting an accurate picture of student learning. In a two-part blog series, we’ll dive into seven things that assessment-literate educators need to do to accomplish this objective. Here are the first three:
- Assessment-literate educators create and/or select assessments that balance formative and summative purposes to meet the information needs of all stakeholders, including students. Teachers have been using assessments since the beginning of teaching. Assessment-literate teachers consciously consider assessments for both formative and summative purposes. Formative assessments inform instruction daily. Summative assessments reveal progress against standards and may include statewide assessments, and end of chapter, unit, and course assessments. Helping teachers become good consumers of assessments is something to which we don’t often pay enough attention. Just because the curriculum includes an end-of unit quiz or end-of-chapter test, does it mean it is high quality? How does it support the learning targets? What information is it providing about what the students know and can demonstrate?
Clearly understanding the purposes of summative (assessment OF learning) and formative (assessment FOR learning) assessment means that educators are better able to plan for instruction, programmatic change, and support students’ learning needs. Teachers need to know what makes a high-quality assessment so both the assessments they select and the assessments they create meet the same standards for quality.
- Assessment-literate educators establish clear learning targets that form the basis of instruction and assessment. Having clear learning targets helps you know where you want to end up. In fact, many teachers have found that sharing the learning targets with the class, either verbally or written on the board, helps students understand what they are learning. It contextualizes the learning. Everyone likes to know that they are going somewhere. Learning targets help guide instructional activities and help focus student attention on the goals. Clear learning targets also guide the type of assessment selected in order to align with content and the method used to teach the content.
- Assessment-literate educators ensure that their assignments and assessments match the learning targets that have been or will be taught. What purpose does it serve teachers or students to work on either assignments or assessments that do not align with the learning targets? Creating a tight alignment helps focus both the teaching and the learning to provide a much more accurate picture of where students are in their learning.
For example, if a student is taught to solve certain math problems with the aid of a calculator, you would want an assessment that allows the same sort of support. If a student is learning how to edit and revise a piece of writing, you’d want an assessment that includes the same context, a piece of writing, for the student to demonstrate their revising and editing skills.
Come back next week for the remaining four things that assessment-literate educators need to do when creating high-quality assessments that meet the objectives of all stakeholders.