Data from a range of assessment types -- formative, interim and summative -- can help schools measure student growth over time. Such data also can create opportunities for differentiation and personalized learning.
In this ASCD SmartBrief special report, we provide a roundup of news about student assessments. We also consider how some educators set the stage for learning and which tools they are using in the classroom. Don't miss the ASCD Resources section, with links to more information on this topic.
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Keep the focus on students, not statistics Want to learn the ins and outs of measuring student learning? Then read the guidelines that will get you results. Our eBook shares how quality data gives you a clear picture of student learning, proficiency, and college readiness—even if proficiency levels drop.
A majority of students and parents participating in a recent Gallup poll said formative and interim assessments are useful in the classroom. Support for state-run standardized testing was lower, with 41% of students saying such assessments are helpful to learning, and 26% of parents saying they help improve the quality of teaching.
Chandni Langford, a fifth-grade teacher in New Jersey, used dry-erase markers to write personal messages of encouragement on students' desks to help calm their nerves ahead of standardized testing. The messages included, "Learning is your superpower!" and "There is no elevator to success, you must take the stairs! You got this!"
Students should have three opportunities to learn something before they are expected to remember it and be able to apply it, writes administrator and educator Ben Johnson. In this blog post, he writes that before conducting assessments, teachers should ask themselves a question: "What three learning opportunities have I given my students so they can be successful here?"
Feedback can help reinforce a growth mindset in students, educator Tim Kramer writes in this commentary, where he reflects on the role of feedback in one of his lessons. "In the vast majority of cases, the feedback received helped the student recognize a mistake or an area of weakness in their learning and/or production process," he writes.
Tapping into students' emotions can help them learn, asserts Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a former seventh-grade teacher and current associate professor at the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. "It is literally neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don't care about," she said.
Teachers should take steps to find out what their students are passionate about to improve teaching and learning, asserts Jill Badalamenti, technology-integration coach at Reed School in Missouri. In this commentary, she shares four key steps to implementing passion-based learning.
Sixth-grade teacher Kevin Hodgson rolled out digital writing portfolios for his students this school year. In this blog post, he shares insights about transitioning from three-ring binders to Google Apps.
Students improved their achievement when they used laptops in science, math, writing and English classes, according to a study by researchers from Michigan State University. Devices should be used to enhance the curriculum and promote 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, said Binbin Zheng, lead author of the study.
More school districts are encouraging teachers to integrate apps in the classroom to allow students to use their cellphones or tablets to solve math problems and create their own instructional videos, according to Project Tomorrow. This article outlines how some districts have used apps and which ones have worked well in the classroom.
Your guide to quality student growth data Interim assessments measure students' academic growth, but vary widely in quality. Some deliver data that's powerful enough to let you make a difference at every level—and some don't. Read our in-depth guide for the key questions to ask when you're choosing an interim assessment.
How to Make Decisions with Different Kinds of Student Assessment Data
Educators can learn what data truly mean when analyzing student learning by reading "How to Make Decisions with Different Kinds of Student Assessment Data." Education consultant and best-selling author Susan Brookhart discusses how teachers and administrators can use assessment data to improve teaching and learning in schools and districts. "What sets this book apart from other data books is the focus on a deeper understanding of the different kinds of student assessment data," said Brookhart. Learn more.
Using Assessments Thoughtfully
In this issue of Educational Leadership, you'll hear from Carol Ann Tomlinson, James Popham, Cathy Vatterott, Myron Dueck and more leading educators with strategies to ensure you use assessments effectively and have them propel student success. You'll learn 10 principles for using formative assessments wisely, homework practices that develop persistence, ways to deal with late and incomplete work, and much more. Read on.
Designing Assessments for Higher-Order Thinking
This PD online course will show you how to design and carry out a range of assessments that involve higher-order thinking, whether for formative or summative purposes. You'll learn how to develop open-ended questions, conduct enriching discussions, and design brief and extended performance tasks all aimed at getting students to use higher-order thinking. The final module focuses on the creation and use of appropriate rubrics to evaluate higher-order thinking, a key practice for keeping the focus on the outcomes of student learning. Learn more.
Teaching Students to Self-Assess: How do I help students reflect and grow as learners?
In the ASCD Arias, Teaching Students to Self-Assess, Starr Sackstein -- a National Board Certified Teacher -- explains how teachers can use reflection to help students decipher their own learning needs and engage in deep, thought-provoking discourse about progress. She explains how to help students set actionable learning goals, teach students to reflect on and chart their learning progress, and use student reflections and self-assessment to develop targeted learning plans and determine student mastery. Learn more.
Formative Assessment in the Content Areas DVD Series
Each DVD in this three-disc set demonstrates the key elements of formative assessment that every teacher needs to know. Classroom scenes throughout the videos show real teachers using formative assessments to discover their students' prior knowledge of subject matter, check for understanding, choose the most effective instructional strategies and gauge the progress of their students. The DVDs show teachers the many ways they can use formative assessments in the subject areas and grade levels they teach. Learn more.