Assessment can create both positive and negative feeling in teachers. When I think of the standardized state tests given once a year, negative thoughts start to put up. “How can one test determine a student’s proficiency?” However, when I think about teaching in my own classroom I enjoy the assessments I create and use as they give me valuable information about my student’s knowledge and helps me determine where I need to focus on next to help all students progress. When I speak of assessments in this sense, it takes many forms: exit slips, observations, games, and conversations.
Rick Wormeli’s powerful statement in the TedEx video summed it all up nicely: “Teaching and learning boils down to that formative assessment.” It’s hard to get past thinking of assessment as the one shot, final measure of a student’s knowledge. Spelling tests, chapter/unit tests, state tests, etc. are not the only form of assessment. While they still have their place in today’s world, they provide an autopsy of learning rather than a checkup.
Assessment can take place in a multitude of ways. Formative assessment allows teachers, as Rick Wormeli also stated, to find out where students are, how far away they are from their goal, and what needs to be done to reach that goal. I think of formative assessment as a constant check-up with students. Whether it be through conversation, use of technology, quick exit slips, etc., all the information helps me (and teachers) to guide what happens next in the classroom. Changing our thinking about assessments- what they are and how we use them- will change how we teach and how our students can show their learning.