5 Strategies to Use Assessment Purposefully

By Ruthmae Sears and Caree Pinder

In the 2020-2021 school year, many schools moved to remote instruction. It posed challenges and was also a catalyst for new possibilities. It disrupted face-to-face instruction and increased the demands for synchronous and asynchronous interactions. Nevertheless, it created and expanded opportunities for teachers to reflect on creative means to formatively assess students, while also being aware of the constraints students may have.

Students may vary in their abilities to access the internet and other resources, and on their abilities to make vertical or horizontal progression through the curriculum. To provide an equitable learning experience for students during this pandemic, assessments had to be purposefully used to move students’ learning forward. We found the following five strategies effective in ensuring that assessments move the learning forward. Make your assessments….

Familiar: Ensure that you are familiar with your students’ interests, backgrounds, and culture. Develop tasks that they can connect to their everyday lives. In doing so, exhibit culturally responsive teaching. 

Flexible: Give students options to communicate what they learned via a video, a poem, a song, or creating games such as an escape room. Posing assignments that students can complete outside of class can increase opportunities for students to take ownership and gain autonomy in their learning. It can also motivate them to exhibit creativity and critical thinking skills. 

Fair: Establish clear expectations and use detailed rubrics that describe the criteria of what you will be evaluating. Additionally, be aware of implicit bias and unproductive beliefs that may impact how you evaluate students.

Feedback: Providing a score alone is not sufficient to move the learning forward. Instead, seek to provide a strong formative assessment, giving students feedback on the accuracy of their responses and specific items they need to address to improve the overall quality of their work. Give them personal comments or notes often, highlighting the strengths of their work and suggestions for improvement.

Forgiving: Students make mistakes. Failure is part of the learning process. Motivate your students to exhibit cognitive rigor, even if they may experience some degree of difficulty. Additionally, utilize positive affirmation to enhance their self-confidence and develop their identities as they explore new terrain. Therefore, exhibit affective domains of learning to promote student success.

Assessment is more than testing, and you should employ it throughout instruction to facilitate students’ learning. You can use formative assessment to orchestrate rich classroom discussions, clarify learning outcomes, promote critical thinking skills, and provide feedback that can support students’ learning and move their learning forward (Wiliam & Leahy, 2016). 

Reference

Wiliam, D., & Leahy, S. (2016). Embedding formative assessment. Hawker Brownlow Education.

Dr. Sears is an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida for mathematics education, and KDP advisor. Her research focuses on curriculum issues, reasoning and proof, clinical experiences in secondary mathematics, and the integration of technology in mathematics.

Ms. Pinder is a doctoral student and teaching assistant in mathematics education at the University of South Florida, and the KDP chapter treasurer. Her research interest focuses on technology in mathematics, developmental mathematics courses, and equity in mathematics.