A Favorite Formative Assessment: The Exit Slip | Edutopia
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A Favorite Formative Assessment: The Exit Slip

Rebecca Alber

Edutopia Consulting Online Editor
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Updated 10/2013

When we think about all the different ways we check for understanding in the classroom, a go-to strategy for many teachers has always been the exit slip or exit ticket. For this strategy, students write at the conclusion of learning, sometimes on a half-sheet of paper with sentence starters provided. It's then collected by the teacher. Why a favorite? Being that they come at the end of a lesson, unit, or segment of study, exit slips give teachers a snapshot of the overall student learning.

Robert Marzano, classroom researcher and education author, recently wrote in depth about this formative assessment. In the article, he shares four uses for exit slips. Students:

  1. Rate their current understanding of new learning.
  2. Analyze and reflect on their efforts around the learning.
  3. Provide feedback to teachers on an instructional strategy.
  4. Provide feedback about the materials and teaching.

An exit slip can also be be a great way to set up the next day's learning. With that in mind, here's a few uses to consider:

Discover Shared Interests

Before introducing a group project that includes student choice, students can respond to a strategic question via an exit slip, sharing their primary topics of interest and their reasons.

Activate Prior Knowledge

Instead of taking time during class to create a concept/topic map, you can provide students with the concept or topic word at the end of class, activating their prior knowledge, and have them write words and phrases related to it on their half sheet of paper. When they come into the classroom the next day, they will see all their ideas displayed around the main word or phrase. This brainstorm also serves as a diagnostic check for the teacher.

The Start of an Essay

The low-stakes nature and end-of-class urgency of the exit slips creates a space for students to write quickly, jotting down all that they know about something. You could ask, for example, "Tell me all that you believe to be (a character's) motivation for ______ in the book________." Students write and write for several minutes. You can hand it back to them the next day, telling them they have a start to their first draft of a character analysis essay.

Surveying Students

Use the exit slip to survey students on a current issue or hot button topic related to them (i.e. curfew, cellphone use at school). The data can be used to launch a lesson on the art of debate, or start a unit on argumentative writing ("75% of the class agrees that...").

The beauty of the exit slip is that it puts the learning in the students' hands. It's also empowering for them when they see what they have shared influence what and how they are taught the next day.

We'd love to hear your ideas. How do you use exit slips in your classroom?

Rebecca Alber

Edutopia Consulting Online Editor

Comments (24)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Emily's picture
Middle School & High School Language Arts

I am still a rather new middle school language arts teacher, and haven't had used the exit slip yet. It is, however, something I have heard in seminars and in talking with classmate teachers in grad classes. But I haven't met a teacher at my school that uses this and was hoping to see it in action first. All my students have their own iPads and access to our online learning source Moodle. I plan to use a Moodle quick quiz as an exit slip- students can log on and respond to a question or two quickly. Any one tried this approach? Suggestions of an easy way to start with using the exit slip? I just want to jump in with it after Thanksgiving.

Sherbea1's picture
Spanish/ESL teacher

I use this type of assessment in my classes, students appreciate being asked about their education at all ages. I find that it takes a few times of practice and feedback for students to think critically about the questions posed. Also, I have to ask substantive questions rather than yes/no questions so that I can get useful feedback.

Lauren Watler's picture
Lauren Watler
Masters of Education Student in Virginia Beach, Virginia

As a teacher we all know it is hard to monitor who is totally mastering the content we are instructing our students on. However, we are responsible to continuously check for understanding so we don't get through the entire lesson with students not mastering the content.
The exit slip is just that, an exit slip. Students are able to show off what they have gained from your instruction. I have observed a teacher that allowed students to work independently on their exit slips, and then place their exit slip on the door when done. When all the students are done; students then choose a slip off the door and peer-check. This exercise allows students to discuss the content and misconceptions of the lesson.

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