Classroom assessment and grading practices have the potential not only to measure and report learning but also to promote it. Like successful athletic coaches, the best teachers recognize the importance of ongoing assessments and continual adjustments on the part of both teacher and student as the means to achieve maximum performance.
Guskey Teachers who develop useful assessments, provide corrective instruction, and give students second chances to demonstrate success can improve their instruction and help students learn. Large-scale assessments, like all assessments, are designed for a specific purpose.
Those used in most states today are designed to rank-order schools and students for the purposes of accountability—and some do so fairly well. But assessments designed for ranking are generally not good instruments for helping teachers improve their instruction or modify their approach to individual students.
First, students take them at the end of the school year, when most instructional activities are near completion. Second, teachers don't receive the results until two or three months later, by which time their students have usually moved on to other teachers. And third, the results that teachers receive usually lack the level of detail needed to target specific improvements Barton, ; Kifer, The assessments best suited to guide improvements in student learning are the quizzes, tests, writing assignments, and other assessments that teachers administer on a regular basis in their classrooms.
Teachers trust the results from these assessments because of their direct relation to classroom instructional goals. Plus, results are immediate and easy to analyze at the individual student level.
To use classroom assessments to make improvements, however, teachers must change both their view of assessments and their interpretation of results. Specifically, they need to see their assessments as an integral part of the instruction process and as crucial for helping students learn.
Despite the importance of assessments in education today, few teachers receive much formal training in assessment design or analysis. A recent survey showed, for example, that fewer than half the states require competence in assessment for licensure as a teacher Stiggins, Lacking specific training, teachers rely heavily on the assessments offered by the publisher of their textbooks or instructional materials.
When no suitable assessments are available, teachers construct their own in a haphazard fashion, with questions and essay prompts similar to the ones that their teachers used. They treat assessments as evaluation devices to administer when instructional activities are completed and to use primarily for assigning students' grades.
To use assessments to improve instruction and student learning, teachers need to change their approach to assessments in three important ways. Make Assessments Useful For Students Nearly every student has suffered the experience of spending hours preparing for a major assessment, only to discover that the material that he or she had studied was different from what the teacher chose to emphasize on the assessment.
This experience teaches students two un-fortunate lessons. First, students realize that hard work and effort don't pay off in school because the time and effort that they spent studying had little or no influence on the results. And second, they learn that they cannot trust their teachers Guskey, a.
These are hardly the lessons that responsible teachers want their students to learn. Nonetheless, this experience is common because many teachers still mistakenly believe that they must keep their assessments secret.
As a result, students come to regard assessments as guessing games, especially from the middle grades on. They view success as depending on how well they can guess what their teachers will ask on quizzes, tests, and other assessments.
Some teachers even take pride in their ability to out-guess students.Promoting teacher training for effective classroom assessments Assessment Literacy “The knowledge about assessing what students know and .
Foundations of Effective Classroom Assessment: Principles and Practices Learn strategies and get practical tools for developing valid classroom assessments (for any content area or grade level) to reliably gauge student knowledge, create access for language learners, and inform classroom .
Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) are generally simple, non-graded, anonymous, in-class activities designed to give you and your students useful feedback on the teaching-learning process as it is happening.
Using classroom assessment to improve student learning is not a new idea.
More than 30 years ago, Benjamin Bloom showed how to conduct this process in practical and highly effective ways when he described the practice of mastery learning (Bloom, , ).
In an effective classroom setting, the focus of lessons is the student. In a classroom where the teacher does little more than stand in front of the class and talk, there is a much greater chance of losing student interest. Effective assessments give students feedback on how well they understand the information and on what they need to improve, while helping teachers better design instruction.
Assessment becomes even more relevant when students become involved in their own assessment. Students taking an active role in developing the scoring criteria, .