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How To: Adjust Your Teaching Styles to Students' Learning Styles
How To: Develop as a Professional
How To: Implement Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment

Using Assessment Data James Dallas

In order to help students become successful learners, teachers must know what their students know and can do with what they know. They use an assessment cycle of observation, reflection, and instruction. This assessment is conducted in the context of the daily classroom learning environment. Teachers gather information about students through records of observation, work samples, checklists, and interviews. The observations are written and dated on a regular, ongoing basis as documentation of academic growth. Skills are assessed in the context of meaningful instruction; teachers reflect on the documented information, looking for what their students can do, patterns of student learning, areas of need, and evidence of growth. Using these reflections and their professional judgment, teachers then plan instruction that aims at meeting the needs of individual students. Below are some guidelines about assessment, which are based on many years of research about learning:
  • Assessment is centered in the classroom (child-centered and guides your teaching)
  • Assessment is systematic, ongoing, and deliberate (assessment is the process of gathering and using useful data to help children learn)
  • Assessment starts with what the students already know (KWL charts as activators- assess at the beginning of new learning what students already know)
  • Choose multiple measures that give students ample opportunities to demonstrate progress (interviews, portfolios, self-assessments, checklists, etc.)
  • Assessment guides instructional plans (those who don't know must be retaught; those who know should be challenged and enriched; extend learning)
  • Assessment is consistent with instruction and curriculum (information should match what the students are taught; don't play "guess what's on the teacher's mind)
  • The criteria for assessment is public; students know what is expected of them (no surprises; development of rubrics with student input)
  • Assessment considers knowledge, process, final products, and thinking (develop a holistic approach to assessing students)
  • Students are actively involved in the assessment process
  • Teachers use professional judgment and objective measures to assess (be fair in the process; know your students and their capabilities.

Teachers must carefully consider at the beginning of the year assessment methods to use and when to use them. Most experienced teachers begin the year by preparing a year-long assessment plan to guarantee that assessment becomes part of the daily teaching/learning process. Some measures are used daily while others are used weekly and even at longer intervals. The key is understanding that the purpose of assessment is to guide instruction and to make thoughtful decisions about student learning.



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