As teachers and educators, it is important to be continuously assessing and evaluating our students in our classrooms. Why, might you ask? Continuous, or ongoing assessment, allows for us as educators to understand where our students are at with the content we are teaching them, it helps us form other lessons based around what they are understanding, and therefore, what they may not be understanding. It also helps us understand where our students might be confused, or misguided with the content and assignments. It is extremely important to provide your students with as much constructive feedback through formative assessment as possible.
While I was in school, most of the time we as students would work extremely hard on an assignment – an essay, a presentation – but when we got our marks back, we would be disappointed. Sometimes it was because we did the assignment wrong, and other times, we just didn’t understand the content at a deep enough level. This disappointment would have been easily avoided if our teachers would have checked in with us, or provided some form of feedback before submitting the final draft. Of course, schools and assessment are moving forward and away from the ‘final draft’ of an assignment, or a final exam, and rather providing options for the students, with guided help along the way. I think this is definitely a good thing, but that also makes our job a lot harder.
Schools are also moving towards making teachers accountable for their assessment practices. In other words, teachers are being closely watched by not only the students, but now their colleagues, and students parents as well. As a teacher, it is extremely important that you can validate not only the marks you are giving your students, but validate your form of assessment on them as well. As Anne Davies states in Making Classroom Assessment Work, “there are three general sources of assessment evidence gathers in the classrooms: observations of learning, products students create, and conversations with students about learning” (p. 45). What this means, essentially, is that teachers should be continually collecting evidence of the students learning from many different forms and sources over time, and eventually, trends and patterns in their learning and development will appear. This not only creates the reliability of your assessment as the teacher, but it creates a validity of your classroom assessment. As you educate your students, you will be at each step with them, providing feedback, and helping them understand the content and succeed both inside and outside of the classroom environment.
An example of this – the formative assessment with constructive feedback – would have been last class. I actually enjoyed getting see and understand where I was at with my blogs and reflections up to this point. It helped me to understand where I needed improvement (where I might be lacking) and it also showed me where my strengths were. Rather than waiting for the ‘report card’ to come out and see where I was standing with this portion of my marks and class, and then wondering where I could have done better to improve the mark, I can see where I am at now and try to achieve a better mark before the term is done.