3 Tips for Effective Student Assessment
By Dr. Liz Brooke, CCC-SLP, Chief Learning Officer
Educators are in search of many answers as they prepare for the fall semester, but how they will assess the strengths and weaknesses of students has a particular focus this year.
As an educator, when you’re deciding whether a student assessment will be valuable or not, it’s important to ask yourself: what question is this testing data going to help me answer? If you don’t know the answer to that question, the odds are that the assessment is not needed, and you may already have the answers and data available elsewhere.
Regardless of what the testing is for, it’s important that formative assessments are chosen based on their quality and their ability provide data that will answer the question you have about your students’ learning.
Let’s look at how educators can choose and use student assessments effectively, especially in the face of post-pandemic learning loss. Here are three things educators should consider when testing students to ensure productive assessments that provide helpful data and insights.
Here are three tips to make effective use of the assessments you choose:
1. Identify where students are in their learning, in relation to where they “should be.” Whether you are approaching this in terms of grade level benchmarks or risk level, it’s important to clearly identify individual students’ current skill levels and struggles that may reduce learning. Discovering which students need help and determining what additional instruction will help get them back on track is a critical first step in choosing student assessments.
2. Determine areas of need for the students who are falling behind. Figuring out why students are struggling and identifying what skills are missing will build a profile of strengths and weaknesses for each student that can help target instruction going forward. This information can guide you as you decide which assessments to use, as a primary goal of testing should be to assess how well struggling students have responded to targeted instruction.
3. Create a plan for the data you acquire. Testing just for the sake of saying you did is a waste of time, and it’s important that you utilize the data from each test to improve instruction and future assessments. With assessment data, you can determine how to close the learning gaps in your classroom by adjusting your instruction focus, increasing the intensity of instruction, or providing additional resources at the school or district level.
These tips act as a helpful guide for making effective use of student assessments, but an even more powerful way to do this is by having formative assessments embedded within digital curriculum or products. For example, Lexia Learning’s Lexia® Core5® Reading and Lexia® PowerUp Literacy® programs provide high-quality assessment data without teachers having to stop instruction time for tests. This patented feature is called Assessment Without Testing, and it gives educators real-time student progress data and take the guesswork out of individualized instruction.
Whichever formative assessment you use, the data should be simple to interpret and actionable to enable you to alter your instruction. Data-driven instruction is key to change a student’s trajectory and increase learning.
To learn more about choosing the right assessments, read my education insight: Assessment Competency.