Should Formative Assessment be Spared from Testing Resistance?

Dive Brief:

  • While there is a backlash against how long students spend taking tests during the school year, teachers can use formative assessments to inform daily instruction, and best serve the needs of their students.
  • For eSchool News, school library media specialist Dawn Nelson writes that pivotEd is a tool that helps teachers ask targeted questions to assess student learning, it incorporates them into instruction, and it gives students multiple ways to respond, making assessment an easy part of every lesson.
  • Ashleigh Schulz, a fourth- and fifth-grade gifted teacher says she set up listening pods around her classroom using the Flexcat audio system, which allows her to listen to how students solve problems and then intervene or tailor instruction based on any student weaknesses she hears.

Dive Insight:

Summative assessments provide more data for administrators and policymakers, while formative assessments are for teachers. These often informal check-ins help teachers understand whether students have actually understood their lessons. They help educators figure out what to review or teach a new way to achieve more widespread understanding among students. And it also helps them plan for personalized learning. If certain groups of students don’t get something but others do, teachers can group students for a targeted intervention.

Classroom clicker systems have long helped teachers assess student understanding in a quick and fun format. Clicker technology, though, has come a long way, with apps now offering a range of new functionalities. For 1:1 or BYOD districts, or even schools in which all students bring their own smartphones from home, these apps can be a big step toward meeting individual students' needs.

Recommended Reading:
eSchool News - Teachers Share Formative Assessment Strategies that Work