Assessment FOR Learning

Student success can be established through the use of formative assessments. These assessments are known as assessments FOR learning and are administered regularly to determine students’ understanding of the lesson. There are five things that make a quality assessment: clear purposes, clear targets, sound design, effective communication, and student involvement. By using formative assessments, we can teach students to be in control of their own academic success. In addition, checking for understanding throughout the lesson will aid students in goal setting, self-reflection, and keeping track of and sharing their learning. This is critical because it instills confidence in students and creates a positive classroom environment where students and teachers can learn and grow together. 

While formative assessments are great to implement in your class routine, knowing how to use them is essential. Data is useless unless it is used. The data from formative assessments will help us teachers provide timely feedback, adjust instruction, and plan ahead. Likewise, when we check student understanding, we must also give effective written or oral feedback. We can do this through videos or messages, individual sessions with students, and/or simple questions throughout or at the end of the lesson. For example, we can ask students what is and is not working and what methods they would recommend for making the lesson easier to understand.  

It should also be noted that formative assessments are only effective if we view students as data-driven instructional decision-makers. Just as we would like students to trust us with their learning, we should also put our trust in our students as individuals. Again, we can establish this by creating a positive classroom environment. 

There are several different ways to initiate formative assessment in the classroom. It can take the shape of various activities such as KWL charts, Flipgrid videos, or something as simple as asking questions throughout the lesson to ensure students comprehend the information. 

I’ve done several Pinterest searches for creative ways to implement formative assessment in the classroom. One of the favorites that I hope to use one day is by using different colored sticky notes, one for “I understand completely,” “I understand somewhat but need some extra help,” and one for “I’m not sure at all.” You could have students put their sticky on the board in categories relating to the color or have students change out the sticky notes on their desks as they move throughout the lesson. 

Assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning is a much better method to help students succeed in our classrooms. While they do add extra steps to teaching, they have the potential to be extremely rewarding for both the teachers and students when used correctly.