In order to effectively plan instruction, it’s important to determine students’ current level of knowledge and state of academic, social, and emotional skills. There are a variety of ways for teachers and students to arrive at this understanding and gauge student progress through assessment.
View the video "Five Keys to Comprehensive Assessment" for a helpful overview of the various types and purposes of assessment. Then explore the resources below for tips and strategies to help you plan and craft assessments to guide teaching and learning in your classroom. After you have seen the video, make sure to read "The 5 Keys to Successful Comprehensive Assessment in Action" for a better understanding of what these elements look like in practice.
Setting Meaningful Goals
- Comprehensive Assessment Research Review: Setting Goals (Edutopia, 2014)
Learn about an important first step in effective comprehensive assessment: setting challenging, meaningful learning goals with multifaceted criteria for success.
- 3 Guidelines to Eliminating Assessment Fog (Edutopia, 2014)
It's easier to differentiate instruction for students when we break through the fog of learning targets and logistical guidelines to understand exactly what we're assessing.
- How Do Rubrics Help? (Edutopia, 2008)
Learn how rubrics can help students and teachers understand the standards against which work will be measured.
- Tame the Beast: Tips for Designing and Using Rubrics (Edutopia, 2012)
Need help creating content for your rubrics? Andrew Miller shares his experiences and suggestions for creating content for rubrics that will make students' -- and teachers' -- lives much easier. You can also download an editable rubric template and customize it to the particulars of your own situation.
Exploring Different Ways to Collect and Use Data
- New Teachers: How to Use Data to Inform Instruction (Edutopia, 2015)
Assessing your students’ skills in order to target ways you can help them develop is one of the most challenging tasks faced by new teachers. In this post, learn about some simple strategies you can use to collect information about student understanding of material in order to inform the direction of your teaching.
- Three Ways Student Data Can Inform Your Teaching (Edutopia, 2014)
Read more about three ways to gather and use valuable student data.
Different Forms of Assessment
- What Are Some Types of Assessment? (Edutopia, 2008)
Learn about some of the different types of assessment in this article from Edutopia’s Assessment Professional Development Guide.
- 5 Assessment Forms That Promote Content Retention (Edutopia, 2014)
Judy Willis, suggesting that effective assessment is built on students' strengths and interests, offers five forms of assessment that will help students retain content rather than forgetting material they no longer need.
- Assessment, Choice, and the Learning Brain (Edutopia, 2014)
Is there a difference between performance goals and mastery goals? Yes -- and that difference can affect student outcome on assessments.
Checking Understanding and Providing Student Feedback
- Why Formative Assessments Matter (Edutopia, 2014)
Formative assessments matter because teachers make important instructional decisions based on the data they provide.
- Comprehensive Assessment Research Review: Providing Feedback (Edutopia, 2014)
Discover research-based strategies for providing valuable, actionable feedback throughout the learning process.
- 5 Research-Based Tips for Providing Students with Meaningful Feedback (Edutopia, 2014)
Teacher feedback must be informative and encouraging for students to fully understand whether they're learning and what they can do to improve the learning process.
- Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding (Edutopia, 2014)
Through alternative formative assessment, teachers can check for student understanding without falling back on the tedious or intimidating pop quiz. Download a list of 53 different ways to accomplish this task.
- Homework When Students Are Ready for It! (Edutopia, 2014)
Are students ready for the homework you give them? Consider assigning less of it, letting students choose assignments, and using it for review and assessment.
- Hit the Mark with Digital Media Exit Cards (Edutopia, 2013)
Matt Levinson illustrates the importance of formative assessment and suggests engaging ways of using mobile devices to enhance the tried-and-true exit slip.
Self- and Peer Assessment
- Self-Assessment Inspires Learning (Edutopia, 2014)
Read and download this self-assessment rubric and accompanying questions to help you assess your own or your students' social and emotional development this year.
- Promoting Student Self-Assessment (ReadWriteThink)
Reference this strategy guide to explore several methods that promote student reflection and tap into student differences in order to see how teaching can respond to their needs.
- Assessment Through the Student's Eyes (ASCD’s Educational Leadership, 2007)
Explore how teachers and students can act as partners in the assessment process.
- Tactics for Tackling the Grading Dilemma (Edutopia, 2010)
Learn about the benefits of peer and self-assessment, and try these tips to help manage those stacks of student homework and classwork.
Performance and Portfolio Assessment
- Deeper Learning: Performance Assessment and Authentic Audience (Edutopia, 2012)
Teacher and writer Shawn Cornally explores the ways of making assessment relevant to students, and therefore more useful to teachers.
- How to Get High-Quality Student Work in PBL (Edutopia, 2013)
John Larmer, Editor in Chief at the Buck Institute for Education, looks at how to get high-quality work from students engaged in project-based learning.
- Final Portfolios: Ending the Year with Meaning (Edutopia, 2014)
Joshua Block shares his final portfolios project, a year-end activity in which students review and reflect on their work to more fully understand what they've learned and how they've grown. Hoping to use e-portfolios in your classroom and not sure which system to use? Find guidance and suggested web tools by reading "Using E-Portfolios in the Classroom" and "4 Web Tools for Student Portfolios."
Traditional and Standardized Tests
- Helping Students Understand What a Test Is and Is Not (Edutopia, 2014)
Neurologist, teacher, and author Judy Willis explains how students' performance on tests can often be affected by their perceptions of and feelings about why they're being tested and what's being assessed.
- How to Look at Multiple-Choice Assessments Formatively (Edutopia, 2011)
Heather Wolpert-Gawron presents several ways teachers can use multiple-choice tests as formative assessments.
- Beyond the Standardized Test: Aim Higher (Edutopia, 2014)
Andrew Miller looks at prep for standardized testing as an opportunity to encourage higher order thinking, embed test prep practices, and make informed decisions about engaging the class and reaching individual students.
- Test Prep Doesn't Have to Be Overwhelming (Edutopia, 2009)
A middle school educator offers the nuts and bolts of preparing students for state standardized tests.
Looking for additional resources for new teachers? Visit the "Resources Toolkit for New Teachers" page for other curated guides, check out all of Edutopia’s content for new teachers on the New Teachers page, and participate in discussions for new teachers in Edutopia’s community.