Topic: General


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




Do We Really NEED Common Formative Assessments, Too?

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with collaborative teams in a school whose principal had asked them to add common formative assessments to their arsenal of assessment practices.  Many of these teachers had worked hard to develop classroom formative assessments that were used to diagnose student learning issues.  This school also had a sophisticated response system that used benchmarking and progress monitoring assessments to identify and monitor students who were not yet at grade level in reading and math. Each of the teams I met with included teachers who were worried about the amount of time it would take them to write common formative assessments, give them to their students, and work collaboratively to plan how to respond to the results of these assessments.  Early in our workshop, I asked teachers to talk together and brainstorm a list of their best hopes and worst fears about this work.  Not surprisingly, several teachers articulated their concerns about adding more assessments in addition to those they were already using. My next step, then, had to be to explore the “why” behind this work. Read more


How Close are We?

Several years ago as an instructional coach in a district new to the work of collaborative teams in a professional learning community, I learned we should calibrate our grading of common assessments.  I decided to ask our Algebra teachers if they would be willing to take on this task.  My request was met with resistance as the teachers explained to me it was an unnecessary use of time since they had already worked together to write the test and had even determined how many points each question was worth and typed those points on the side of each item.  I offered to bring donuts and a couple of student samples if they would agree to score a test together.  They finally gave in. Read more


A Resolution to Keep: Sustainable Systems of Assessment

It’s that time again. We are four weeks into a new year; a time for renewal, an opportunity to refresh and rejuvenate, and a sense of hope to reinvigorate a part of your personal or professional well-being. You may have been among the estimated 40% of people who set a New Year’s resolution. Surprisingly enough, when it comes to keeping those resolutions, one-quarter of us will have fallen victim to abandoning our resolution within the first week of January, and nearly 75% of us will have slipped away from our resolution within the first month. Read more


SPARK Testing so students learn!

This guest post is written by Kara Hageman, a PhD student in Educational Psychology at the University of Iowa and former high school science teacher. She blogs at www.spiralingassessment.com. Kara can be reached via email at kara-hageman@uiowa.edu or via Twitter @hageman97

A poem is learned by heart and then not again repeated. We will suppose that after a half year it has been forgotten: no effort of recollection is able to call it back again into consciousness (Hermann Ebbinghaus, 1885, p. 8).
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Comments: 3

Summative Assessment Timing

“The strongest of all warriors are these two – Time and Patience.” Leo Tolstoy

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” Mahatma Gandhi Read more


But, I already know which of my students needs help!

When I work with teachers who are writing and using formative assessments in their instructional practices, they will sometimes tell me that while they understand how important formative assessment is, they also feel that they are wasting instructional time because they already know which of their students have learned the targets being assessed. They say that some students always need help, and others have asked questions during the instruction that show they don’t even have a basic understanding of the target being taught. For these students, they wonder why they should even give them the formative assessment. Read more


Comments: 4

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