How do you measure what a student understands?
First, Determine The Purpose Of The Assessment
If all students are all going to have their height and weight measured, a common standard makes sense; If students are all going to have their attractiveness measured, any kind of ‘standard’ is creepy.
Measuring knowledge and mastery of competencies and skills isn’t quite as subjective as ‘beauty,’ but isn’t anywhere close to as cut and dry as height and weight. We can give the same test that measures the same thing in the same way for all students and do no damage really—provided we are all on the same page that we’re not measuring understanding but rather measuring performance on a test.
In a perfect world, we’d have countless ways to measure that understanding—all valid, universally understood, engaging to students, etc. In pursuit, I thought it’d make sense to brainstorm different ways to measure understanding. Some will be more or less useful depending on content areas, grade levels, student motivation, etc., not to mention what the purpose of the assessment is.
If you’re not clear about why you’re assessing (and what you’re going to do with the data the assessment provides) you’re wasting a lot of time, energy, and resources–your own and that of the students.
These can be thought of as reasons to test
1. Criterion-Based Assessments
A criterion-based assessment assesses a student’s performance against a clear and published goal or objective. This is in contrast, for example, to a test which students hope to ‘do well on’ but without a clear and concise objective and/or without clear performance standards for that objective.
2. Standardized Assessments
A standardized assessment is any assessment containing elements that are the same for all students universally. The perceived benefit is that standardization ensures all students are being weighed equally and that there is a common ‘bar’ for students to be measured with.
3. Standards-Based Assessment
A form of standardized assessment, a standards-based assessment is one that is based on an academic content standard.
Pre-assessment is any kind of evaluation, analysis, or measurement of student understanding that occurs before the teaching/learning process begins.
The purpose of pre-assessment varies–it can be to help plan lessons and activities, revise curriculum maps, create personalized learning pathways for individual students, help inform grouping strategies, plan future assessments, etc.
5. Formative Assessment
Formative assessment generally occurs during the teaching and learning, though it’s not that simple and a better way to think about formative assessment is to consider that it provides data to form and inform the teaching and learning on an ongoing basis. A common example of a formative assessment is a quiz. Types of quizzes? Pop quizzes, planned/scheduled quizzes, timed quizzes, and so on.
This can also be thought of as ‘diagnostic assessment,’ and is ideally the most common form of assessment in K-12 learning environments (because the purpose is to measure understanding to better create future learning experiences).
6. Summative Assessment
A summative assessment is any assessment done when the ‘teaching is done.’ This makes the process of ‘summative assessment’ a curious thing unless there are no more opportunities to teach and learn (like the end of a school year).
7. Timed Assessment
This one is self-explanatory–any assessment that is time-bound is a timed assessment (though technically that timing can be minutes or even years depending on the nature and purpose and scale of the assessment.
Timed Assessments can also be combined with other forms–a timed project or timed essay, for example. The idea is the constraint of time somehow shapes the scope of the test and the performance of the student.
8. Untimed Assessment
Untimed assessments are less common than timed assessments if for no other reason than the scheduled-nature of modern education necessitates it.
9. Open-Ended Assessment
In contrast to a timed, standards-based and standardized assessment, an open-ended assessment is generally designed to provide a proving ground for the students to demonstrate knowledge, skills, and competencies. Through open-ended assessment, student autonomy, creativity, and self-efficacy play a larger role in their performance.
Due to the nature of this approach, the mindset of the learner is crucial. Without confidence, ownership, and a clear sense of how and what they might demonstrate what they know, learners can feel uncertain–and worse, may fail to ‘show what they know’ and misinform future planning of learning experiences because of this ‘failure.
A learning blend is an example of an open-ended assessment.
10. Game-Based Assessment
A game-based assessment is often technology-based (e.g., video games), but an athletic contest can be considered game-based assessments as it’s the performance within a given set of rules that determines what the learner knows and can ‘do.’
11. Benchmark Assessment
Benchmark assessments evaluate student performance at periodic intervals, frequently at the end of a grading period. Can predict student performance on end-of-the-year summative assessments.
12. Group Assessment
Group assessment is what it sounds like it might be–assessment done in a group with (at times) varying roles and responsibilities.
Obviously, a design challenge is Group Assessment is to know exactly what you’re assessing as social dynamics and individual roles and responsibilities can obscure the analysis of student learning.
(This article/text/quote/image are shared in good spirit to strang then school education system.)