Posts by Nicole Dimich Vagle


Using Assessment to Change a Student’s Mind

Grading and assessment is often very personal—to students, to parents, and to teachers. I wear (as many of us do) many hats: parent, trainer, facilitator, author, and learner. And, I am all too aware of how my own children’s confidence and motivation is impacted by assessment.

In the absence of clear descriptions, students often make their own meaning of what those comments, symbols, or quantities mean. Those interpretations influence what students believe about their abilities. Read more


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Guiding Student Investment through Making Learning Clear

The idea of students investing in their learning is a sought after prospective for many educators. How do teachers set up the conditions for students to want to learn? How do we inspire students to take their next steps and learn more? How does this investment lead to high levels of achievement for all students? The answers may be simpler (not to be confused with easier) than we think. Read more


Keeping Assessment Balanced: The Standardized Test Effect

August is the time of year when finalized standardized test scores are released to school districts and shortly thereafter shared publicly. It is a time for celebration, frustration, disappointment, and sometimes even a sense of panic or urgency that leads to questions such as, “What are we going to do? How do we share these with our community?” Read more


The Road to Achievement and Confidence

Confident, excited teachers make for confident and excited students. Jim Knight (2007), an expert on instructional coaching, suggests, “When people talk about learning, the experience should be exciting, energizing, and empowering” (p. ix). Assessment has the potential to generate all three of these conditions when designed and used in the service of learning. Read more


Assessment in Action: Lessons from Learning to Snowmobile

It was a warm winter day. Snow was falling and my 8-year old was ready to ride the youth snowmobile. I was determined that he was going to learn to do this. While Chase loves to “drive,” he is more concerned with everything around him than the road right in front of him. He watched his older brother jump on and thought that he should be able to ride as fast as he does. Read more


Designing Assessment through the Lens of Engagement

It is not often that teachers consider engaging student work when designing assessments. The technical aspect of identifying standards or learning goals and matching them to items and tasks is certainly an important aspect of design, but it cannot be the only thing. There are times when educators talk of engaging instruction and design lessons and activities that captivate students. Read more


Assessment and Hope: Not an Oxymoron

The words assessment and hope are not often used in the same sentence. The mere mention of the word assessment can cause stress and angst.  At the Assessment Center we aim to change that visceral reaction. At its core, assessment fosters hope, builds efficacy, and increases achievement (Shepard, 2000; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011; Brookhart, 2013; Andrade, 2010; Hattie & Timperely, 2007; Brown & Harris, 2013). Read more


Observation as Assessment and Feedback

My sister was helping out in her Kindergartener’s classroom. I had previously shared with her a bit about my work and passion in helping teachers use assessment to see students as possible and then tap that information to engage them to learn.  She wondered if her story had anything to do with my work.  It is an incredible example of the kind of observations that changes students’ lives. Read more