What Should Assessments “Do”?

student test

All the recent talk of assessments can leave teachers reeling. In her recent article, The Most Important Question Every Assessment Should Answer, Terry Heick clearly reveals a path for teachers to use as they move from assessments of learning to assessments for learning.

The difference between assessment of learning and assessment for learning is a crucial one, in many ways indicative of an important shift in education.

Traditionally, tests have told teachers and parents how a student “does,” then offers a very accessible point of data (usually percentage correct and subsequent letter grade) that is reported to parents as a performance indicator. Class data can be gathered to imply instructional effectiveness, and the data from multiple classrooms can be combined to suggest the performance of an entire school, but a core message here is one of measurement and finality: this is how you did. This was the bar, and you either cleared it or you didn’t. Article Continued…

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