In our last several blog posts, we’ve shared three of the four conditions that Stiggins and Chappuis insist must be met to ensure the effective use of student-involved classroom assessment. These were discussed at length in their article – Using Student-Involved Classroom Assessment to Close Achievement Gaps. To recap:
- Condition One: Assessment development must always be driven by a clearly articulated purpose
- Condition Two: Assessments must arise from and accurately reflect clearly specified and appropriate achievement expectations
- Condition Three: Assessment methods used must be capable of accurately reflecting the intended targets and are used as teaching tools along the way to proficiency.
Condition Four: Communication systems must deliver assessment results into the hands of their intended users in a timely, understandable, and helpful manner.
When we think of assessment OF learning, as we touched on in Condition One, we think of measurement of what students have learned, and so communication occurs in the form of report cards, or summative test results. While communication here is important, it does not occur in the timeframe necessary to close achievement gaps. With assessment FOR learning, the delivery of assessment results happen in near real-time and is more descriptive in nature, providing both the teacher and the student with the information they need to affect learning in the moment.
In assessments FOR learning, the assessment purpose is to provide teachers and students with information they need along the way, during the learning process, to make decisions that will bring about more learning. In this side of the assessment house, an effective communication system provides regular diagnostic information to the teacher and frequent descriptive feedback to the learner. Grades (numbers and letters) do not provide the detail needed to function effectively as feedback in this setting.
With student-involved classroom assessment in place under the four conditions that Stiggins and Chappuis have outlined – and we’ve blogged about here – teachers and students can effectively close achievement gaps. Understanding that wide gaps that might appear in some summative assessments can be detrimental to student success, meeting these conditions can help teachers and educators implement effective student-involved assessment FOR learning.