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Why Formative Assessments Matter

Why Formative Assessments Matter
Summative assessments, or high stakes tests and projects, are what the eagle eye of our profession is fixated on right now, so teachers often find themselves in the tough position of racing, racing, racing through curriculum. But what about informal or formative assessments? Are we putting enough effort into these? What Are They? Informal, or formative assessments are about checking for understanding in an effective way in order to guide instruction. What this means is that if we are about getting to the end, we may lose our audience, the students. We are all guilty of this one -- the ultimate teacher copout: "Are there any questions, students?" Ever assign the big project, test, or report at the end of a unit and find yourself shocked with the results, and not in a good way? To Inform, Not Punish Believe me, I've been there: wanting to punish the lazy, the cocky, the nonchalant. If you feel tempted to do this, just say no; it's a mistake. When and How? Exit Slips Student Checklist

Formative assessment Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides explicit feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of intended instructional outcomes. Formative assessment is a method of continually evaluating students’ academic needs and development within the classroom and precedes local benchmark assessments and state-mandated summative assessments. Teachers who engage in formative assessments give continual, explicit feedback to students and assist them in answering the following questions: Where am I going? In order to show students how to close the gap between where they are academically and where they want to be, teachers must help students evaluate their progress in the learning process and give them explicit, descriptive feedback specific to the learning task. History of formative assessments The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) developed a focus for formative assessment in October 2006.

Justification Dissecting Formative Assessment - Post One Dylan Wiliam has identified five strategies that he has come to believe are core to successful formative assessment practice in the classroom. Over the next five formative assessment blog posts, we’ll break each strategy down for better understanding of how it fits into the big picture of formative assessment. First, here are his five strategies: 1. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success 2. 3. 4. 5. This blog will cover the first of the five strategies – clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and the criteria for success. Setting expectations is crucial in so many aspects of life, whether on the job, on the playing field, or in the classroom. In 2000, C.A. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and what creates success transcends teachers, students and peers.

Formative Assessments "If you can both listen to children and accept their answers not as things to just be judged right or wrong but as pieces of information which may reveal what the child is thinking, you will have taken a giant step toward becoming a master teacher, rather than merely a disseminator of information." -Easley & Zwoyer, 1975 Proof Points Black and William (1998), two leading authorities on the importance of teachers maintaining a practice of on-going formative assessment, defined it as, “all those activities undertaken by teachers, and by the students in assessing themselves, which provide information to be used as feedback to modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged.” Formative assessment encompasses a variety of strategies to determine student progress toward achieving specified learning goals. The strategies for investigating student learning identified below provide different types of data from and about students. How Do I Know What I Know? Is That a Fact?

Justification Dissecting Formative Assessment – Post Two In our first post in this series, we mentioned the five strategies that Dylan Wiliam has identified as core to successful formative assessment practice in the classroom. To recap they are: 1. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success 2. Engineering effective classroom discussions, activities, and learning tasks that elicit evidence of learning 3. 4. 5. Our first post dissected the first strategy – clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success. In general, many classroom discussions consist of lower-order questions (closed end questions, yes/no questions) which are answered by a few motivated students. + 54% were managerial – What are you working on now? + 38% were lower-order thinking – What is war? + 8% were higher-order thinking – How might life be different if peace were declared in the Middle East? + asking higher-order questions, + collecting responses simultaneously from all students…

Assessment for Learning (AfL) Strategies AfL || Sharing Learning Expectations || Questioning || Feedback || Self-Assessment & Peer Assessment Sharing Learning Expectations The best way for teachers to share learning expectations is, well, to know them. Start with your state standards. In WA state we have pretty well organized Science standards and I also make use of the Benchmarks for Science Literacy and the National Science Education Standards. Once you have your standards figured out you need to back up. This is a sample Science learning progressions for the learning of insects. Too BIG – “Students know that: Earth is a system that contains a fixed amount of each stable chemical element existing in different chemical forms. Yeah! Too small – “Students know that energy can be transferred from one place to another.” What makes this too small for a learning target is the fact that it’s too low on bloom’s taxonomy that students know energy can be transferred. Feel free to leave me a comment :o) Back to the TOP Feedback 1. 2. 3.

Justification 22 Easy Formative Assessment Techniques for Measuring Student Learning I came across Terry Heick’s blog – 10 Assessments You Can Perform In 90 Seconds – at TeachThought from earlier this year and really enjoyed the formative assessment strategies that he outlined. Using formative assessment techniques in class – or “simple assessments” as Terry calls them – are easy to administer and provide the instant feedback teachers need to identify which students need more help, and then adjust their instruction and lesson plans to help them. Visit Terry’s blog above to get more detail on the following ten formative assessment techniques: 1. Combining Terry’s ten with the ten we’ve blogged about can give teachers 20 great formative assessment strategies for measuring student learning. 11. Here are a couple more assessments you can use to elicit evidence of student learning. 21. 22. All of these 22 formative assessment techniques are simple to administer and free or inexpensive to use. Do you have a favorite?

Dylan Wiliam – Formative Assessment – The Masterplan The first of a series of notes / reflections on sessions at the 2010 SSAT National Conference. Bio Dylan Wiliam has the grand title of ‘Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment‘ at the Institute of Education in London. He is a former Maths teacher and co-author of the book “Inside the Black Box“. He is a world renowned expert on assessment for learning, and was recently to be seen on BBC television in The Classroom Experiment. My Notes On learning environments & the role of the teacher: Teachers do not create learning. On intelligence & environment: Intelligence is partly inherited. On flow: Flow = match between challenge and capability. On assessment: Pre tests. 5 key strategies in teaching: On feedback & questioning: Middle class kids ‘get the code’, working class are no less intelligent just don’t get what we want. Plan questions carefully to elicit understanding, not incorrect methods that are resulting in right answers. Wait time for questioning. Key points: Cause thinking.

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