Category Archives: Strategies

Assessment FOR Learning: What Does It Look Like in Teacher Terms?

In this post from the ATI archives, Rick StSchoolchildren Studying In Classroom With Teacheriggins paints a picture of what assessment for learning looks like in the classroom.

When using assessment FOR learning in a proper manner, teachers use the classroom assessment process and the continuous flow of information about student achievement that it provides to advance, not merely check on, student progress. The basic principles of assessment for learning are captured in the following checklist. Teachers who can say that these practices are part of their normal routine are applying the principles of assessment FOR learning:

  • I can articulate the achievement targets that my students are to hit before I begin instruction.
  • I regularly inform my students about those learning goals in terms that they understand.
  • I am routinely transform my achievement expectations into assessment exercises and scoring procedures that I am certain accurately reflect student achievement.
  • I understand how to use classroom assessment to build student confidence in themselves as learners.
  • The feedback that my students receive is frequent and descriptive, giving them information upon which to improve their performance.
  • My students regularly assess their own achievement and feel comfortable managing their own improvement over time.
  • I continuously adjust instruction based on the results of classroom assessments.
  • My students are actively involved in communicating with others about their achievement status and improvement.
  • My students are able to predict with some accuracy what comes next in their learning.

In short, the effect of assessment FOR learning, as it plays out in the classroom, is that students remain confident that they can continue to learn at productive levels if they keep trying to learn. In other words, they don’t give up in frustration or hopelessness.


Tips for Better Student-Developed Rubrics

Are you planning to have your students create their own rubrics this year? Here are some tips on how to guide this process from Judy Arter & Jan Chappuis’ Creating & Recognizing Quality Rubrics.

While we’re all in favor of involving students in rubric development, it is not true that anything gos when we do. We have to be ready to lead students to germane criteria. We have to have a clear picture in our own minds of where we want to take students so that we can engage them in activities and show them models that lead them to justified inferences about quality. Teachers generally know more about quality than do students. Even though students always have knowledge to build on, they also can harbor misunderstandings. Our rubrics send a message to students about what is important. Therefore, the rubrics they create have to cover the features that really do define a quality performance or product.

We once saw a rubric developed by third graders to evaluate reading comprehension by producing a poster of the story. Students focused on the quality considerations for an attractive poster—three colors, at least five pictures, neat, readable from a distance, and so on—instead of the quality of the comprehension displayed by the poster.

A solution? How about leading these students to deliberately evaluate two different criteria: comprehension of the story as revealed by the poster and the attractiveness of the poster itself. For the former, have them think about what would indicate that a student has understood the story. For the latter, let them know that it is always important to present work in an engaging manner. Here their criteria for a quality poster might prove sufficient.

Then, if we put two scores in the record book—comprehension and presentation—it would be clear what each score is evidence of. The presentation score would be used in figuring an art grade, not a reading grade, because the rubric for presentation represents art-related learning targets.

Excerpt from Arter, J. & Chappius, J. (2006). Creating & recognizing quality rubrics. p. 61. Reprinted by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Finding Success in All the Right Places

By Pat Collins and Kelly Jewell

Can you picture a student that you think is always off-task? How about one that sure seems lazy? Do you have students that don’t start assignments even though you know your directions were crystal clear? In this day and age it is tempting to blame these behaviors on ADHD, poor parenting, or bad attitudes. But what if it’s something else? We wondered why we weren’t successfully motivating and engaging our students.

You might say to motivate and engage students our lessons just need to be interesting, connected to the real-world, active, reach different learning styles, and fun. But, that wasn’t enough to reach many of our students. After plenty of research and a lot of trial and error, we hit upon the hidden obvious. People aren’t motivated to do things if they don’t think they can be successful. Success is motivating! Continue reading

More on Late Work

Recently a teacher wrote in liking our post on late work but had the following question: “How can my feedback be effective if student work isn’t timely? How can I be expected to give late work the same attention as work that comes in on time?” This is a very real concern for teachers when considering whether or not to eliminate late penalties in their assessment practices.

Tom Schimmer writes:

The question about teacher time is an important one that can’t be ignored. In order for any new practice to be successful in the long term, we need sustainable routines or we risk “burnout.” No late-penalties doesn’t mean no deadlines, however. When deadlines are missed, we need both an individual response and a “system” response in order to make sure that students are as current as possible. Some quick points…I’ll try to be brief.

1) Distinguish between “can’t do” and “won’t do” issues. A “can’t do” means the student actually doesn’t fully understand what to do to complete the work. A “won’t do” is not necessarily outright refusal; however, it does mean that the student knows what to do but hasn’t done it. Each of those requires a slightly different response.

2) “Won’t dos” need a place to go (AM/at lunch/PM) to complete the missing work. Who supervises, who confirms attendance, etc. are all “system” questions that principals and teachers have to come together on. If they “no-show,” then who gets the referral? Is it a “code of conduct” issue? Something else? “Can’t dos” need further instruction and, therefore, need a different response from the teacher.

3) In the schools I’ve worked in, we set an unwritten guideline of two weeks. That meant that we wanted work to be missing for no longer than two weeks. We actually preferred one week, but knew there would always be extenuating circumstances and/or the scope of what’s missing may take longer.

4) Ask yourself whether the missing “evidence” is necessary or whether the standard(s) addressed in the missing work will be addressed again very soon. I call this overlapping evidence. Taking a standards-based approach means we look at “meeting standards” and not necessarily “getting everything done.” For example, missing homework could likely be covered on an upcoming quiz, so it might not be necessary for students to complete all of the homework as you know you will be assessing the very same standards shortly after. The big question with missing work is this: Is this piece of evidence necessary for me to accurately assess the student’s level of proficiency? If yes, then you need it; if no, move on.