Measuring What We Teach: Three Ways We Often Miss the Mark

Student assessment is really about improving student learning. We test because we need answers, answers to crucial questions that will guide instruction, planning, placement, and intervention:

  • Is the student responding well to intervention?
  • Is she catching up to her peers?
  • Do we need to try something different?
  • Are all students being challenged and making expected progress?

Good assessments will guide us in what we do next. Unfortunately, assessments sometimes fail to deliver the feedback we need, especially for struggling learners. One of the most common culprits of this pitfall is surprisingly simple.

Your Students Benefit When You Use an Adaptive Assessment

When reviewing data with teachers I am sometimes asked, “why not give all students in my class the same test items?” I understand where this question comes from. When you are looking at your students’ test results it makes sense to want to see the questions that most students answered incorrectly so that you can then focus instruction on those areas. This approach does not benefit some students and gives the impression that most students have the same need which often is not the case.

When we give all students in a class a test with the same test questions we are using a “static” or “fixed-form” test. Test designers typically select test questions for a static test at the middle of the grade level in terms of difficulty. The test designer is making a compromise by selecting the most test questions that will be in the learning zone of the most students. If the test has 25 questions maybe 20 of those questions will be designed for the middle of the grade level with a few easier questions and a few harder questions.

Why Create a New Student Assessment?

I have worked in the field of education for over twenty-five years. Most of my time and energy has been dedicated to implementing interventions to help students who struggle to learn, and designing and evaluating interventions for those students.

During this period my greatest frustration was determining or demonstrating whether the intervention was making a positive meaningful difference. I traced the source of this frustration to one fact. It was very hard to find an easy to implement student assessment that could really answer the fundamental question; is what we are doing working?

Finding Patterns in Educational Data to Improve Learning

There is that point in the student assessment process where our students complete testing and it is time to carefully review the data. This is when see how our kids faired; some surprise us with how well they do and others do not do as well as we might have expected. This leaves us with the question: What do we do next with our educational data to guide and inform instruction?

Topics: Blog

The Key to Understanding Student Test Scores

Have you ever received ineterim assessment scores for your students with a few scores that make you wonder, how in the world did that happen? You sometimes find scores that seem to not make sense because many assessments are not transparent. The key to understanding student test scores so that you can improve learning is using a transparent assessment.

The key to understanding student test scores so that you can improve learning is using a transparent assessment.

With a transparent assessment, you have the opportunity to drill into your data and learn exactly what happened in each student’s test experience. Maybe some standards were assessed that you had not yet taught. Or, it could be a student skipped several questions and rushed on a few others lowering her score. With a transparent test, you can investigate where her performance surprsied you and even review the test with your student to discuss what her thinking was for specific questions where her performance was unexpected.

Topics: Blog