Assessment Education Perspectives

Using Classroom Assessment to Close Achievement Gaps – Post One


Student-involved classroom assessment, which can be formative or interim in nature, is a powerful tool and one that Stiggins and Chappuis discuss at length in their article – Using Student-Involved Classroom Assessment to Close Achievement Gaps. What’s particularly interesting about their article is the four conditions that they highlight that must be met to ensure the effective use of student-involved classroom assessment. Over the next four blog posts, we’ll explore these conditions.

Condition One – Assessment Development Must Always Be Driven by a Clearly Articulated Purpose

Stiggins and Chappuis point out that there are two different types of classroom assessment – assessment of learning and assessment for learning. Assessment of learning measures what students know and help verify that learning has occurred, and often takes the shape of summative or year-end assessments. While these assessments can help schools and districts make program adjustments, its lack of the here and now doesn’t bode well for helping the students in the moment.

Assessment for learning, however, helps “yield significant school improvement and reduce score gaps.” As the authors state:

Assessment FOR learning practices remedy that by helping students answer three questions: Where am I going? Where am I now? How can I get there from here? In other words, students need to know what the intended learning or expected standard of quality is. They need to know how to judge and monitor their own progress. And they need to know what to do to get themselves from where they are to where they need to be (Black & Wiliam, 1998; Sadler, 1989).

Tweet: Using classroom assessment to close achievement gaps – post 1 #edchat #educationThis up-front sharing of the learning targets and success criteria does two things:

  • It empowers students and teachers to work together by letting students in on the “secrets of success”
  • It partners both teacher and students to “use evidence of learning” to evaluate student progress toward shared goals

In general, students must understand what they are expected to learn before they can take responsibility for their own learning and before teachers can measure what they’ve learned. In many instances, students have incorrect conceptions of what they are learning, why they are learning it, and what quality work looks like. And as teachers, at times we do, too.

In our next blog post, we’ll dive into condition two – assessments must arise from and accurately reflect clearly specified and appropriate achievement expectations.