The word, “Test” has a negative connotation in the school environment. Students cringe when the word is mentioned and teachers stress. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be like that because there is a purpose behind it all. A purpose that will help you become a better teacher and children to become better students.
What is a Test?
Testing is a key component in the education field. Test mandated by federal and state legislators measure students based on their overall knowledge. These test have provided administration with data that helps them make decisions about the districts next steps. While state testing can help districts make decisions on a district level, ongoing classroom assessments can help teachers determine their next steps in instruction. These assessments are given in the form of quizzes, tests, writing assignments, homework or classwork. Assessments given on an ongoing basis in the classroom can be formative or summative, while mandated test are only considered summative. Either way, these assessments serve a purpose inside and outside of the classroom.
The Reason behind Assessments
Classroom assessments given by the teacher are the focus of this article. Let’s look at the reason behind assessing in the classroom daily. Knowing our students’ ability level is a staple for making change in the classroom. The results educators received from assessments (whether they are required by the federal government, state or on a classroom level provide) us with relevant information. Here are 3 key components to the importance of assessing student knowledge:
Making changes to instructional practices
Data trends from assessments over time provide teachers with information pertaining to their own instruction. For example, data could shows that over the course of three years students struggle with author’s point of view. Then this information is vital to instructional changes. Content area teachers will then collaborate to identify ways to make changes to the way they are presenting the material to students.
Once the information is received and analyzed teachers are able to make decisions on curriculum and formative assessments. Educators are able to identify which curricular aims are effective in the classroom. If something isn’t working for a group of students then the teacher is able to modify or differentiate materials for those students. Making decisions on the type of curriculum used in the classroom and formative assessments given can only improve student learning.
Measures comprehension and growth
The purpose of any assessment is to help educators determine what they need to do next; to ask themselves, how can I help my students learn what they need to know? Assessments provide teachers with information that leads to teacher reflection. For example, the results from an exit slip may show that 90% of the students didn’t comprehend the lesson. This evidence is a clear measure of how much students are processing the lesson being taught. In this case the teacher will then reflect on their own teaching and determine what changes they will need to make in their instruction to ensure students understand.
Assessments come in the form of exit slips, homework, class work, quizzes or tests. Once one of these type of assessments is give to students it is important that the teacher analyzes the results and reflects on the lesson. If information from assessments are used properly they can help educators make sound decisions that will enhance the quality of education being provided.
Using Assessments to our Advantage
Testing students is key to a teachers instructional practice. An effective teacher understands that multiple forms of testing need to take place in the classroom in order to make sound decisions. The results of these test will then lead us to drawing inferences about student understanding. Teachers will identify curricular aims that will need to be addressed in the future or retaught. Results from testing will force teachers to ask themselves questions about their instruction and direction.
Using these results to our advantage will require educators to make instructional decisions. These decisions could lead to adjusting current activities in the classroom if students are performing. Or, the results could present evidence that shows the curriculum, assessments and instruction are aligning to improve student understanding. Another advantage of assessing is using the information to reflect and evaluate on our own teaching style. Assessments provide us with pertinent information on what is working and what isn’t working.
Overall, assessing students on a daily basis is vital. An effective teacher uses this information to adapt instruction to their learners. This insight is valuable, because it provides educators with a sense of direction by giving us a clear path to walk down.
What assessments are most effective in your classrooms? Comment below. We would love to hear from you!