This Thursday at 8pm CST #saskedchat will be exploring Assessment – As, For, and Of Learning.
As often happens in education, the discussion of assessment seems to result in polarization of ideas where individuals take an Either/Or stance. This can be seen on the discussion of homework vs stop homework, where discussions often take the well-worn path of the all-in/out stance. Inevitably this type of discussion polarizes the issue(s) which really doesn’t help anyone, except maybe those people trying to sell something (another little issue that is steadily creeping into educational discussions lately).
Assessment is a part of schooling and people seem to agree that assessment needs to change but, depending on your point of view and who you talk to, the way it needs to change is not necessarily clear. There are calls for eliminating high stakes testing as they are currently used while others point to their use around the globe with mixed results.
Assessment As, Of, and For Learning
There are many times during a day in which I am ‘assessed’. If I’m driving and a police officer is watching traffic, I will be assessed on how well I am following the rules of the road and adhering to the laws, at that particular instant. When I cook for my family, how well I do is ‘assessed’ by whether people like what was cooked or not. Depending on how you view assessment, each day we are assessed in a variety of ways, some more directly than others. Drive over the speed limit in a zone where there is photo-radar, you will probably receive a ticket for failing to follow the posted speed limit.
For teachers, ePortfolios, Project Based Learning, Problem Based Learning, Inquiry, Genius Hour, Maker Space, Kahoot, Socrative, Google Classroom, Freshgrade, Flipgrid and a variety of other tools and strategies are changing how teachers are engaging in assessment with students and is changing how teachers are using assessment in the classroom. As a way to frame the discussion of assessment, looking at “Why” one assesses can help to frame the discussion in a different way. In order to facilitate this changing assessment landscape, discussing assessment As, Of, and For Learning helps to differentiate the role of assessment and how it is used.
These are not new terms, nor are they necessarily new ways of looking at assessment. This differentiation does help to see how assessment has shifted from an end-of-unit exam or a 5 paragraph essay to something much more dynamic and complex.
Assessment As Learning
Assessment As Learning focuses on students self-monitoring their own learning. This is described as meta-cognition – the knowledge of one’s thinking.
Assessment as learning emerges from the idea that learning is not just a matter of transferring ideas from someone who is knowledgeable to someone who is not, but is an active process of cognitive restructuring that occurs when individuals interact with new ideas. Within this view of learning, students are the critical connectors between assessment and learning. For students to be actively engaged in creating their own understanding, they must learn to be critical assessors who make sense of information, relate it to prior knowledge, and use it for new learning. This is the regulatory process in metacognition; that is, students become adept at personally monitoring what they are learning, and use what they discover from the monitoring to make adjustments, adaptations, and even major changes in their thinking.
Helping students to understand their own learning is key in helping them develop skills to be life-long learners who will be able to meet the demands and challenges in a world that continues to rapidly change. No one is really sure what will happen in the next 10 years but it will probably be very different than it is today while remaining very similar in many ways.
Assessment For Learning
Assessment For Learning takes place throughout the learning process from the beginning of the school year until it ends. With the use of different digital platforms, this process can continue throughout the entire time a student is in school, with learning events and reflections occurring in a variety of ways all the while parts of these events being digitally captured to allow teachers, students, and parents to see the growth over time and identify areas that might need further development.
Assessment for learning occurs throughout the learning process. It is designed to make each student’s understanding visible, so that teachers can decide what they can do to help students progress. Students learn in individual and idiosyncratic ways, yet, at the same time, there are predictable patterns of connections and preconceptions that some students may experience as they move along the continuum from emergent to proficient. In assessment for learning, teachers use assessment as an investigative tool to find out as much as they can about what their students know and can do, and what confusions, preconceptions, or gaps they might have.
Organization such as Canadian Assessment for Learning Network support teachers, schools and parents with Assessment For Learning and work to provide great understanding about the role of Assessment For Learning and it’s use within the learning process.
Assessment Of Learning
Assessment of Learning can be described as a snapshot of a person’s learning at a particular point in time. This has traditionally been what was reported on a traditional report card with a grade.
Assessment of learning refers to strategies designed to confirm what students know, demonstrate whether or not they have met curriculum outcomes or the goals of their individualized programs, or to certify proficiency and make decisions about students’ future programs or placements. It is designed to provide evidence of achievement to parents, other educators, the students themselves, and sometimes to outside groups (e.g., employers, other educational institutions).
Assessment of learning is the assessment that becomes public and results in statements or symbols about how well students are learning.
Various school divisions in Saskatchewan, in Canada, and around the globe have begun to adopt a report card that focuses on feedback and growth as opposed to grades. As with all change, there is resistance of this form of reporting and, in some cases, a call to return to traditional grades.
What do you think?
This is just a very general overview of Assessment As, For, and Of Learning. There are many more nuances to assessment that often are not discussed. I would highly recommend you check out these resources for a much greater discussion of assessment:
Softening the Edges – by Katie White – an great book about many of the parts of assessment that don’t often get discussed. I highly recommend this book as it will challenge you to think of assessment in new ways.
Checking for Understanding – by Doug Fisher & Nancy Frey – A great book that highlights the use of Formative Assessment at all grade levels.
Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design – by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe – this has been my go to book for addressing the whole assessment piece – planning like an assessor not like an activity planner.
What do you think? What are your thought about assessment? How would you like to see things change?
Join #saskedchat Thursday night at 8pm CST as we explore this topic.
Formative Assessment – Key to Learning
This week, #saskedchat will explore Formative Assessment – Key to Learning a topic suggested by Dawn Bick an elementary science teacher from Fishers, IN.
Formative Assessment has become an important part of classroom assessment, providing teachers with a variety of information to support student learning. One of the most important aspects of FA is that it needs to inform upcoming lessons and be used by the teacher to make adjustments to meet the needs of the students. Using FA without using the information it provides is akin to checking a weather app but wearing shorts no matter the forecast.
There are a variety of different FA instructional strategies that teachers can use at all stages of a lesson – Before, During, or After learning.
Susan M. Brookhart’s Formative Assessment Strategies for Every Classroom: An ASCD Action Tool, 2nd Edition is a good resource for all teachers. It not only describes FA but provides a variety of strategies for developing FA, strategies for developing FA, and describes how to use FA in the classroom.
The article 5 Fantastic, Fast, Formative Assessment Tools by Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) describes Formative Assessment tools that teacher can use with technology including Kahoot, Socrative, and such tools as Plickers and QuickKey.
Natalie Regier, M. Ed. provides 60 Assessment Strategies that teachers can use –
This is a good resource for all teachers as it provides strategies that can be used at different age/grade levels.
What is Formative Assessment?
FA is the use of different assessment strategies to gather data about student learning to determine what students know and what they need to learn to meet a goal or outcome, using that information to plan and make adjustments to meet the learning needs of students.
According to Susan M. Brookhart (2010)
The best formative assessment involves both students and teachers in a
recursive process. It starts with the teacher, who models the process for .
the students. At first, the concept of what good work “looks like” belongs to
the teacher. The teacher describes, explains, or demonstrates the concepts
or skills to be taught, or assigns student investigations—reading assigned
material, locating and reading materials to answer a question, doing
activities or experiments—to put content into students’ hands.
Formative Assessment helps students to develop meta-cognitive skills – learning how to learn – which are important as the student becomes an independent learner. “Learning how to learn—that is, learning the metacognitive skills that will ultimately contribute to lifelong learning—begins with specific acts of self-assessment” (Brookhart, 2010). Helping students to develop skills as independent learners is important in a world that is undergoing intensive changes and requires people to be ‘always learning’ in order to be active and informed citizens in a connected global society.
Formative Assessment is not graded. It’s used to inform instruction, provide feedback about what student’s know and where learning gaps exist, and help students improve and grow. This reduces ‘grading anxiety’ that many students have as they focus on the grade they received and not on the feedback or how they can improve. FA helps to reduce anxiety about a ‘grade’ and provides students the opportunity to improve their work through an iterative process of feedback and self-assessment.
Formative and Summative Assessment
“Formative and summative assessment should both serve the same learning goals. This is how they are connected. The assessments students use as they develop, practice, and learn should be based on the same knowledge and skills they will ultimately demonstrate for a grade” (Brookhart, 2010). Formative Assessment provides students the opportunity to practice and improve without the pressure of attaching a grade to the work and prepares them for summative assessment.
Formative Assessment is part of the planning process and needs to be developed during the process of planning. By planning for FA, teachers shift their focus from planning activities for students to planning growth and feedback loops for students. The activity, whatever it might be, is part of the learning process which includes opportunities for students to demonstrate learning in a variety of ways and receive feedback for improvement before any form of summative assessment takes place.