by Judy Willis M.D., M.Ed., radteach.com
What should a test “do”?
We know that tests limited to rote memorization are inappropriate when used as a primary source of grading or evaluation of understanding. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be that way–especially if they precede instruction and provide critical data to personalize learning.
Collecting informal preassessment and ongoing assessment information can provide a more accurate picture of understanding. Informal observational assessments are most valuable when you have a focus. What do you want to assess on a particular day that will guide your actions through the rest of that day, week, or unit?
Pro Tip: Recording brief notes about exceptional work or cases of difficulty will provide prompts for needed individual recognition, extra help, homework revisions (differentiation) or class discussions.
Preassessments and ongoing formative assessments of factual data and concepts that provide information regarding foundational knowledge can be gathered from preassessments, as well as quizzes throughout a unit of instruction. Multiple choice, fill-in, or short-answer questions, when used for instructional interventions can provide information to guide what additional background knowledge (or enrichment) is needed for each student for developing understanding and construction of conceptual, long-term memory.
It is valuable to consider in advance how the results of those assessments will be used for student engagement and success. So rather than being concerned simply with standards, and how closely a question aligns with a standards, it can be helpful to think data-backwards.
3 Questions To Consider Before You Give A Test
1. What data–beyond a numerical score–can I easily extract from the results? Put another way, how can I design this assessment to yield easy-to-use and helpful data?
2. What plans can you prepare now for when deficiencies or advanced mastery are inevitably verified from these assessments?
3. What role can students plan in the process?
The Best Intervention Is Prevention
The best intervention for deficiency is prevention.
Find gaps before they widen into canyons by building missing or correcting inaccurate foundational knowledge with flexible groups, online learning games of needed facts/procedures (see blog of resources for these games), and differentiated progress pathways.
Similarly, plan for opportunities for increased depth understanding or extended applications of knowledge for students already who have already achieved mastery or do so before classmates.
Image attribution flickr user tulanepublicrelations; 3 Questions To Consider Before You Give A Test