Stiggins (2014) belief is that assessments can help students to realize their dreams. Given the appropriate conditions and implementation, I also believe that assessment can be an essential component to a student’s future success. Educators are given the task of producing lifelong learners. Evaluation of skill and knowledge can place a sense of control into the hands of the student. Assessments can come in many forms and levels of intensity but are most often used to make decisions and judgements or to determine impact (Wood et al, 2016). By leveraging student intrinsic motivation and tailoring assessments to target objectives, students can experience encouragement that builds momentum towards success.
Stiggins (2014) is careful to point out that assessments must meet specific conditions in order to enhance student outcomes. Assessments must be built at the local level and aligned to a declared mission that honors the needs of all academic stakeholders. Stiggins suggests that each assessment meet a strict five-point checklist that includes a clear purpose, intended targets, effective design, communication, and, most importantly, involve the students. In my experience as an educator, I find that students are more receptive to assessment when targets and goals are visible and consistently reiterated. For instance, benchmark testing charts are posted in my classroom in addition to grade-level standards in student-friendly language. Students are also responsible for keeping track of their assessment data throughout the year to define goals and track progress. A barrier to these conditions is the stigma often associated with assessments that they must be restrictive, formal, and intensive.
Assessments are often developed as an evaluation of certain concepts or skills from a one-dimensional point of view. However, students represent a myriad of different learning styles and methods. There is not a one size fits all approach to evaluation of student learning. Effective assessment involves student accountability, reflection, and refinement (Stiggins, 2014). All educational stakeholders need to be assessment literate in order to gain perspective on developing assessments that are meaningful, relevant, and produce worthwhile data.
Stiggins (2014) introduced a balanced assessment system composed of three tiers. Effective assessments begin in the classroom and must be high quality to provide meaningful feedback to students. Subsequently interim benchmark assessments at a school-wide level can then provide contextual data and encourage student growth and goal setting. Lastly, annual state standardized testing can evaluate achievement and skill level on a more general scale to make decisions and guide future instruction. Using this system in a math classroom, teachers would have flexibility to incorporate a variety of different assessments relevant to students and aligned to target objectives. Benchmark testing would be streamlined and comprised of collaborative input from all math teachers. Preparation and evaluation of annual state standardized tests would be a collaboration of math teachers and administrators in order to examine data and determine next steps.
As technology, social networking, and the importance of social emotional learning continue to expand, so must the vision of assessment. Traditional methods of formal, restrictive assessments are no longer effective for our diverse learning population (Frederking, 2019). A new assessment vision will link assessment data to instructional adjustments through collaboration and intentional use of best practices. Teachers will model positive self-efficacy that will transform to students and encourage a growth mindset that lays the foundation for lifelong learning. Assessments will be comprised of a variety of informal and formal strategies that can be used formatively or summatively to gather data. Involving students in the assessment process will build on their sense of intrinsic motivation to succeed and encourage continued skill refinement.
Federking, D.M. (2019). Examining the instructional priorities of a secondary education teacher
preparation program utilizing an integrated approach to assessment education.