Friday Thoughts: Did they get it?
In a session at EdCamp Arkansas last Saturday, we discussed assessments and how to do them effectively in class. We talked about summative assessments like Aspire and the SAT-10. We talked about formal classroom assessments (like traditional tests and quizzes) and information classroom assessments (like homework checks, marker boards, thumbs up, cold calling, etc.). We had a great discussion and shared some fun techniques for assessing knowledge, but our discussion about assessments kept coming to one question: Did students learn the material?
That’s a great question— and certainly one that should be asked— but it shouldn’t be the last question asked when looking at assessments. Did students learn the material? should then be followed by If not, how will I reteach this material?
And that’s where it gets tough. It’s so easy to feel the need to move forward to cover the class material, but covering the material isn’t the same as teaching it. This forces teachers to get creative and to find ways to assess often and plan instruction based on student need. Again, it’s not easy.
We test to see what’s known and what was missed, but to be effective, we can’t simply enter a grade and move on to the next unit. We must make sure we’re using data from students to determine our next moves, rather than allowing a pacing guide to tell us where to go.