Assessment for Learning

Assessment has evolved over the years to meet the needs of different learners. Earlier ideas of assessment were based around assigning homework, giving tests, and reporting grades. In fact, assessment could be viewed as a form of ranking. I can relate to this type of assessment when I reflect on my elementary and high school years. I was often given work out of a textbook, answered questions, took notes, and then was tested on what I remembered at the end of the unit. However, this form of assessment may not be appropriate for all learners. Summative testing does not showcase what all students have learned. These previous ideas of assessment are shifting to a more loosely based approach whereby assessment becomes more authentic.

Both readings, Our Words, Our Ways, and Learning to Love Assessment highlight the importance of assessment for learning. As a future educator, I believe it is important to allow for multiple assessment strategies in the classroom. This gives students choice in terms of how they are evaluated. For example, allowing students to visually represent their understandings, or verbally record their understandings are examples of multiple assessment strategies. As Tomlinson describes, this helps to shift from, “assessment as judging to assessment as guiding” (Learning to Love Assessment). I believe this is important in order to focus on student accomplishment rather than ranking students.

Another factor to consider in terms of assessment is that informative assessment does not always have to be formal. This idea resonated with me as a future teacher because I think students deserve the opportunity to show what they know in an everyday setting. Tomlinson explains that this can be accomplished by using a clipboard to take notes of student learning. I believe that assessment strategies need to be fair for all students. As educators, we need to take into consideration that students have different cultural backgrounds that affect the way they learn, and students have different aptitudes for learning. As teachers, we need to be able to provide different strategies for assessment to meet the needs of diverse learners.

After reading these articles I have formed a basis for how I believe assessment should be treated in my future classroom. However, I am still struggling with the idea of grading students. How do you informally assess student knowledge without assigning a mark? For example, if a student demonstrates knowledge towards a particular outcome during class, but fails to do so on a unit test, how do you assign a mark that accurately represents this student’s level of knowledge?


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