The sixth standard of the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, Assessment, states that teachers must understand how to use various methods of assessment to both engage learners in their growth and monitor progress. Additionally, teachers must use this knowledge to guide their own decision-making strategies as well as the student’s decision-making methods. The purpose of this standard is to ensure teachers are using ethical methods of assessment to measure and document student’s educational growth, identify learner strengths and weaknesses so that appropriate accommodations can be made when necessary, and instruction can be more strategically aligned with goals and objectives.

Teachers must evaluate the positive and negative aspects of various types of assessments when choosing which format they will use. For instance, multiple-choice and true/false tests are easy to grade but might not accurately reflect student knowledge, whereas a performance-based assessment is more likely to reflect knowledge but is generally more time consuming and difficult to grade. For these and other reasons, teachers must be equipped to use a variety of assessments for specific purposes. Games can be a useful tool for formative assessments and my elementary students are much more engaged with educational games than they are with traditional tests or quizzes so I created the leapfrog game below to help them understand inflectional endings. They must choose a card, tell me or a classmate what changes have been made to the word, and then find that change on the nearest lily pad. Although this is a fun and engaging formative assessment, it should not be used in isolation to gauge student knowledge on the subject, rather it should be used as a tool to reinforce skills and confirm whether a student understands how inflectional endings impact the meaning of words.

Teachers must also use various assessment strategies to determine a student’s stage of development such as that which the Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) can provide. I have conducted several DSA’s for students at all stages of literacy development. The image below is an example of a student who is performing at the syllable juncture stage of literacy development and his results indicate that he is most proficient with doubling and e-drop, but could use instruction on distinguishing the differences between stressed and unstressed syllables in polysyllabic words as well as affixes. Gathering this type of student data as well as monitoring progress to ensure academic growth is taking place is a crucial component of assessment as it is outlined in the InTASC model.

Furthermore, it is not enough for teachers to simply have a variety of assessment tools in their repertoire, they must also make extensive efforts to communicate with learners about their progress and guide them towards consistently increasing their academic capabilities and directly addressing any learning barriers as soon as they are detected. For many students, individualized educational plans (IEP’s) or 504’s may be necessary to ensure they are given the equitable education they are entitled to under federal and state laws. Below is an example of a student with an IEP assignment in which I have used his accommodations to help him complete his work successfully. The importance of teachers understanding individual student needs, limitations, and capabilities cannot be understated, and our choices of assessment for every student must be aligned with both the academic goals and objectives as well as knowledge of the individual student.

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Assessment of and for Learning