January 10, 2008
By: Thomas R. Guskey
Teachers who develop useful assessments, provide corrective instruction, and give students second chances to demonstrate success can improve their instruction and help students learn. Excerpted from Educational Leadership. 2003. 60(5), 6-11
The assessments best suited to guide improvements in student learning are the quizzes, tests, writing assignments, and other assessments that teachers administer on a regular basis in their classrooms. Teachers trust the results from these assessments because of their direct relation to classroom instructional goals. Plus, results are immediate and easy to analyze at the individual student level. To use classroom assessments to make improvements, however, teachers must change both their view of assessments and their interpretation of results. Specifically, they need to see their assessments as an integral part of the instruction process and as crucial for helping students learn.
Despite the importance of assessments education today, few teachers receive much formal training in assessment design or analysis. A recent survey showed, for example, that fewer than half the states require competence in assessment of licensure as a teacher (Stiggins, 1999). Lacking specific training, teachers rely heavily on the assessments offered by the publisher of their textbooks of instructional materials. When no suitable assessments are available, teachers construct their own in a haphazard fashion, with questions and essay prompts similar to the ones that their teachers used. They treat assessments as evaluation devices to administer when instructional activities are completed and to use primarily for assigning students’ grades.
To use assessments to improve instruction and student learning, teachers need to change their approach to assessments in three important ways:
To read the entire text, go to In the Classroom, Articles.
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