Time for Assessment

I heard someone use this analogy about a different subject but it fits so well with the way we should think about assessment, I’m going to apply it here.

The hour hand moves slowly, the minute hand a little more rapidly, and the second hand passes speedily by…but it requires all of them to tell the time.

What are your hour hand assessments? (summative)
What are your minute hand assessments? (common formative)
What are your second hand assessments? (check for understanding)

They’re all on a different schedule, but they’re all moving in the same direction and it requires all of them to tell us about how a student is learning.

Your summative assessment probably already exists. Choose something that you will be assessing at the end of the quarter for grades. If necessary, develop an alternate form of this assessment and administer it early in the quarter as your pre-assessment. Choose wisely here – you want an assessment that you and your team believe is a measure that would indicate that a student has the necessary skills to demonstrate success on a cumulative measure at the end of the year.

Your common formative assessment might already exist. It’s something that you and your team agree to use as a monitoring tool between your pre and post assessments. It needs to be something that shows you that students will be ready to show what they know on the summative assessment.

Your checks for understanding are those things you do…and you probably don’t even realize you do them. This is where you know minute by minute, day by day how your students are doing. Come up with a simple way for students to show you that they understand what you are teaching them, or that they need it explained in a different way. This is where your team will find the common language and information needed to hold a conversation about instruction and effective strategies. You’ll describe how you checked for understanding and one of your colleagues will describe how they did it. Your team might decide that one of you is on to something and they all want to do it and they all want to gather information about it and bring it back to the next meeting…Guess what just happened? You just turned it into a COMMON formative assessment!


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