As a teacher, are you swamped with assessing your students everyday? Would you like to know some quick and powerful student assessment strategies, while limiting the amount of work you take home? Assessing your students is often the most difficult part of effective classroom instruction and often the most overlooked, by both the teacher and the student. Just as students need strategies for learning, teachers need strategies for instruction and assessment. The best strategy for assessing your students that I have used and found a lot of success with is three-part.
The first step is to read your daily objective aloud and visualize your students mastering the objective. If you can not imagine your students showing mastery of the objective, through writing, speaking or performance, by the end of the class period, than you have likely planned more than you can tackle. Without a clear and concise daily objective, there is no way to know if you are assessing your students accurately, and it will be difficult to help them improve. Furthermore, you may be spending your time grading and providing feedback on tasks that are not the most relevant.
After you have clarified your daily objective, design a few checkpoints throughout the period to help you determine if students are progressing through the lesson, working toward mastery. Utilizing a quick bell-ringer activity to pre-assess your students can be a powerful tool that is quick to look at while students work and can give you some in the moment ways to relate during your lesson. Designing one or two verbal or quick-write assessments to use during the lesson is a great way to let you know if you need to slow down or speed up, provide more examples, give students time to apply the material, or allow for group work. In fact, sometimes this mid-lesson assessment of students has shown me that my objective and instruction were not aligned and I am able to adjust during the lesson, rather than losing an entire day of instruction. Finally, decide on an exit assessment, this may be a verbal “out-the-door” question, a partner share-out (in which you listen and notate over their shoulders) or it could be a quick written assessment.
Once the lesson is over, review your notes and recall what you noticed during the lesson. Design a plan for helping students that were really struggling or craft a new lesson if most students did not show mastery on the final out the door assessment for the next day. When the unit is over, if you have assessed students in this manner on a daily basis, you will find that their assessment scores are mostly in line with what you noticed daily.
For perhaps the first time in your teaching career, you will have a depth of knowledge of your students’ learning that is clear and authentic without the need to grade piles of student work at home. Furthermore, you will be able to match these daily checkpoints more intentionally with projects and exams. More importantly, your students will know that you are really paying attention because you have created quick and powerful student assessment checkpoints!