Formative Assessment is a constantly occurring process, a verb, a series of events in action, not a single tool or a static noun. — from Formative Assessment That Truly Informs Instruction (NCTE, 2013)
Assessment is an integral part of instruction determining whether or not the goals of education are being met. It is used to measure the current knowledge that a student has. It is through assessment that teachers are continually asking:
“Am I teaching what I think I’m teaching?”
“Are students learning what they are suppose to be learning?”
A test, quiz, or assessment project is not just a grade to evaluate the students at the end of a unit but an ongoing evaluative tool for the teacher. Teachers are engaged in assessment every minute that they are in the classroom. As teachers we are always observing, noting, and evaluating. There are three types of feedback and goal setting assessment tools that teachers need throughout a unit of inquiry:
Pre Assessment (Finding Out) – Pretests, inventories, KWL, checklists, observations, self-evaluations, questioning, mind mapping, anticipation guides
Pre Assessment allows student to demonstrate what they already know about what is being planned and what further instruction opportunities are needed or what requires reteaching or enhancement. Teachers can not just begin a lesson without taking a “temperature” of what the students know in the beginning.
Formative Assessment (Keeping Track and Checking Up) – Conferences, peer evaluations, observations, talkaround, questioning, exit cards, quiz, journal entry, self-evaluations
Formative assessment occurs concurrently with instruction and provides feedback to teachers and learners. Formative assessment can be formal and informal to frame meaningful performance goals.
Summative Assessment (Making Sure) – Unit Test, performance task, product and exhibition, demonstrations, portfolio review
Summative assessment shows what students have learned at the conclusion of an instructional unit and is evaluative.
For reliability and validity teachers should use a variety of assessments to provide enough helpful feedback to improve performance. Assessment should be used for guiding, self-reflection, instruction, nurturing, and used over multiple activities. In addition, students should be involved in daily or weekly evaluation of their progress. Rubrics and other scoring tools help evaluate understanding of content and skills that are used by both the teacher and the student for both specific tasks and long term progress. I never handout to students an assessment without also giving them the evaluation rubric at the same time so they know exactly what I am looking for when I evaluate their projects and assessments. Here are four criteria of quality feedback as defined by Grant Wiggins (1998):
1. It must be timely.
2. It must be specific.
3. It must be understandable to the receiver.
4. It must allow the student to act on the feedback (refine, revise, practice, and retry).
It is easy to give tests and quizzes but in actuality, they are not always the most accurate evaluation tools. Teachers want to use a variety of assessments or data sources and teacher data mechanisms to help gain a more accurate picture of students knowledge and understanding.
To help my pre-service English teachers consider the various aspects of assessment, I created this Assessment Speed Dating Hyperdoc that walks teachers through various literacy based assessments in the English language Arts classroom and more.
The hyperdoc and speed dating template was inspired and adapted from Amanda Sandoval @historysandoval.