Last year, I attended EdCamp Los Altos. My goal was to really listen to what the educators had to say and to try to understand what problems they faced every day. Boy did the EdCamp deliver!
Given what we’re trying to help teachers with at Edusight, I was attracted to two sessions – making assessment meaningful, and reinventing the parent-teacher conference.
Here are the top 3 things I learned about how teachers can make assessment more meaningful every day!
Purpose: Start with the End in Mind
Assessment for the sake of assessment is futile – the goal of assessment should be to inform instruction, rather than to check a box. Begin with thinking about what skills your students should display to demonstrate mastery, and assess to understand how progressing along this path. The results of assessment should dictate how you adjust your lesson plans and instruction to shepherd students further along the path to mastery.
The assessment then should be ongoing and informative. Instruction should adapt to results. Assessment should rarely be the endpoint, but rather a regular checkpoint along the path to mastery.
Focus on Process: Knowledge Isn’t Always the Goal
Increasingly, knowledge isn’t what we strive for as educators. Students knowing what will be on the test and memorizing concepts to prepare is a phenomenon of the past.
Assessment should not just test knowledge, but also process. Are students understanding how to apply concepts? Can they communicate what they’ve learned effectively? Are they able to think critically about new information on the concept, and synthesize what they’ve learned well?
The minor word of caution is that there is some value to memorization and knowledge-based learning, especially in early foundational concepts (e.g., multiplication), so even though a knowledge should not be a focus of assessment, a complete departure from assessing knowledge is also not recommended.
Student Self-Reflection: The Power of Metacognition
A really powerful tool in making assessment meaningful is student reflection on their own performance. Whether it’s self-reflection or group discussion on each others’ work and the meaning of what they learned, students benefit tremendously from looking back and identifying specific things they did well, and specific things they can improve upon.
Self-reflection also provides the additional benefit of building character. Students learn to give and receive feedback and constructive criticism; to be tactful and respectful in giving, and to be open and receptive while receiving.
Students are empowered by self-reflection, and having them clearly outline what they learned and what they need to work on also provides a framework for accountability!
While I could never do justice to the depth of discussion in that room, I hope the brief lessons outlined provide some food for thought for how you can make assessment meaningful this year!
How do you make assessment more meaningful?
Until next time!
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