Assessment For Learning

Both formative and informal assessments are essential to successful teaching–they can be used to gauge whether or not content is sticking with students. The way that assessments are given, and the language used, can make or break how students perform in the classroom. In today’s schools, the most common sort of formal assessment are high-stakes, yearly tests typically taken towards the end of the semester to gauge how students have reacted and studied the material. These tests are strict and rigid. These tests are considered assessments of learning. These do not yield the most successful test scores, however.

What A Difference A Word Makes by Rich Stiggins and Jan Chappuis defines a different mode of assessment: “Assessment for learning happens in the classroom and involves students in every aspect of their own assess- ment to build their confidence and maximize their achievement. It rests on the understanding that students, not just adults, are data-driven instructional decision makers.” (Stiggins and Chappuis) This sort of assessment is for learning, not of learning. One of the best examples of this is doing smaller assessments to collect data over time, rather than one large, high-stakes assessment. For learning assessments focus on student feedback and creating student relationships, rather than using a black and white exam.

Focusing on student feedback can look like asking major questions: what isn’t working well for you? What would you recommend instead? These are outlined in the article How To Do Formative Assessments for Distance Learning. Another point that the article made was that data is useless until it is used. Because for learning assessments don’t necessarily breed data that is as black and white as of learning assessments, it is up to the teacher to pull and collect the data from student feedback and smaller, less-stakes assessments and use that to inform and bend instruction to the benefit of the student.