Establishing clear learning targets and aligning pre-assessments, formative assessments, and summative assessments is an ongoing process to ensure that the assessment serves its purpose. Chappuis, Stiggins, Chappuis, & Arter (2012) state, “Assessment is not a singular noun referring to an individual test or task, but refers to an ongoing process that is interwoven with instruction” (p. 9). In order to use formative assessment as a tool to improve student learning, it must provide teachers with information that allows the teacher to understand students’ level of understanding. It should help teachers determine students’ specific needs or misconceptions so they can differentiate instruction to meet each individual need. I think a valuable task for teachers is to think about the types of assessments they will use throughout the lesson that connect to the learning target. Each assessment should be assessing skills that measure whether students are on the right track to meeting the target. O’Connor states, “Teachers must understand clearly what learning results are expected and then base their assessment and grading plans on these learning goals” (p.47). Some questions to consider when thinking about assessment may be:
- Does the assessment help the teacher understand students’ understanding of the learning target?
- Do the learning activities align with the learning target?
- Can the learning activities be used as formative assessments throughout the lesson to determine if students are ready for next steps?
- Do the assessments show student growth over time?
- Are students a part of the assessment process?
- Do the students have a clear picture of the learning targets and expectations for meeting them?
One formative assessment that can help teachers learn students’ levels of understanding is student self-assessments. According to Chappuis et al. (2012), “Opportunities for students to express their understanding should be designed into any piece of teaching, for this will initiate the interaction through which formative assessment aids learning” (p. 22). Self-assessment before, during, and after the lesson can help keep the students’ focused on the learning target so students understand the purpose of the learning activities. For example, providing students with a rubric before the lesson may help the teacher establish clear learning targets and prepare students for the learning they should achieve by the end of the lesson. The rubric can also be used as a checkpoint to ensure that both the teacher and student are keeping their focus on the learning target. It can be used as a tool to identify misunderstandings so they can be clarified before moving onto the next part of the lesson. Finally, self-assessment at the end of the lesson allows students to reflect on their progress and ask questions. Chappuis et al. (2012) describe formative assessment as feedback for both teachers and students about understanding in order to determine the way forward (p. 27). The artifacts below are examples of self-assessments my students complete that help them reflect on their understanding of the learning target. Students explain the learning target in their own words, assess their level of understanding, and ask questions they may have about the learning. This is an effective assessment tool for me because in addition to analyzing student’s work, I also have specific statements from students of what exactly they do or do not understand.
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