Hand completing a multiple choice exam.Have you ever talked to a fellow educator and the subject of assessments comes up? Most of us (educators) are familiar with summative and formative assessments and the differences between the two. But does that mean we all use them effectively?

Speaking from my own experience, I think not.

Tests and quizzes are the standard assessment type for most teachers, but what does that mean? Paper based tests are one method of gathering information from students but they lack immediacy. In some classrooms teachers have scantron readers where teachers of students can get instant feedback, but then the test is limited to multiple choice questions. If teachers use more effective methods, such as essay and short answer questions, the time between the test and feedback can be days or even weeks!

Quality assessment should have three features: immediacy, richness, and validity. By immediate, I mean the feedback should be instant when possible. It should be interactive in the case of formative and meaningful in the case of summative. It should also be rich in sound, video, and multimedia whenever possible. Hands-on, physical activities, and other engaging assessments produce greater student outcomes and are generally more fun!! Having fun is okay, right?!  Of course it is, as long as the test or quiz assesses the objectives or standards listed prior to the event in question. Valid tests are also differentiated to meet the needs of the learners. This means it provides for multiple learning styles and allows for multiple means of engagement.

All in all, quality assessments can come in a variety of forms. They can be online, in blended learning environments, project based, completed as a group, individually, or any combination of the above. As long as the facilitator/teacher provides quality objectives, multiple means of interaction and completion, and clearly defines the expectations (such as a rubric), their assessment will be effective.

For more on standards-based and formative assessments:

Marzano on formative assessment

 

What are some ways you assess students that address the points I have mentioned?

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Samuel Bourgeois

Sam has been a certified teacher for six years, four of which he worked in the Southwest Region School District where he was honored as Teacher of the Year. Sam has positioned himself over the years in various classrooms and through a variety of subject areas as a general technology expert. As a full time teacher in Togiak, AK Sam challenged students with multimedia assignments, multi-genre projects, and culturally infused technology-enhanced instruction. Teaching in the ‘Bush’ has convinced Sam that any divide, whether cultural or geographic, can be bridged through technology. As the Educational Technology Coordinator for the Lower Yukon School District, he is an Office and iLife/iWork expert, skilled content and curriculum developer, and dedicated researcher.

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