If you have been following our blog series on the 10 Elements that Compound Student Success, we’ve covered nine out of ten elements that will help you build formative assessments that guide instruction. Click the links below to return to the post about each element.
Element one: Learning Outcomes
Element two: Number of Items
Element three: Item Types
Element four: Arrangement of Items
Element five: Assessment Stretch
Element six: Assessment Rigor
Element seven: Duration of Assessment
Element eight: Clear Directions
Element nine: Deconstructing the Standards
Today we’ll be covering the final element that will help you craft great formative assessments: reflection and revision.
Element Ten: Reflection and Revision
Acknowledging that assessments will never be perfect the first time, no matter how much effort educators put into them, is essential to making them better. They may not be perfect after the second or third versions have been administered, either.
But with practice, assessments will improve and the quality of information gathered will grow. The point is to focus on incremental improvements, because formative assessment is an iterative process, with the opportunity for continual adjustment and improvement.
The reasons to modify assessments before and after each administration are:
1. Educators teach every lesson slightly differently each time.
2. Standards, curricula, and pacing guides change.
3. Educators teach different students each semester or year.
4. Students come to educators with different levels of knowledge and skill.
5. Teaching resources and materials are added and removed from classrooms.
Analyzing assessment results gives teachers insight into not only what the students mastered, but also into how the test items functioned.
The following story is one example of the benefits of analyzing assessments postadministration. It was the end of the nine weeks when the benchmark test was given. On the exam, every first-grade student in a South Carolina classroom failed to correctly answer an item assessing a skill about the proper use of calendars, which the teacher had been teaching every morning for months.
Upon review of the item, the teacher quickly realized that the way the item assessed the skill was not how she was teaching that skill.
Although the students failed to correctly answer the item, the teacher learned some important lessons after reviewing the assessment:
1. The teacher learned how the calendar skill would likely be assessed on the state summative assessment in second grade.
2. She learned a different way to teach that skill to her students.
3. She added an item to the test that assessed the skill in a way that was more closely aligned to how she taught it.