Assessment is an essential component to any instructional practice. Teachers need to use ongoing assessment to check learner progress.
How does this work, and how do teachers design ongoing assessments? Read on for details.
What Are Ongoing Assessments?
Ms. Brown is a first-year teacher at a school with outdated curricula. The social studies resources are great for helping her pace instruction and test students at the end of the unit but provide little help with checking in throughout learning, otherwise known as ongoing assessments. Ms. Brown learned last year in college that ongoing assessments are quizzes, observations, or quick-checks and that she needs to be using them often, but isn’t quite sure why or how to design them on her own. She decides to go back to her box of papers from college and check it out.
Why Use Ongoing Assessments?
Ms. Brown understands testing students at the end of instruction is used to determine whether or not they comprehend material. These summative assessments are the bulk of grading. But then why should teachers also use ongoing assessments?One reason is to check in with student learning and see how students are doing as the work progresses.
By using ongoing assessments, also referred to as formative assessments, Ms. Brown can identify students who are struggling before they get too far behind. She can also use ongoing assessments to see if the method of instruction is effective. She may find students understand less when she lectures but more when she does activities.
This will inform her on the best way to teach her students.Teachers use ongoing assessments to keep students on task with learning. For example, in classes with confusing vocabulary or many dates and events to remember, teachers may give assessments to break learning into reasonably sized chunks. This way students don’t have to learn and memorize a lot of concepts at one time. Finally, ongoing assessments highlight student growth over time. Some students, especially special needs and English language learners, may not fully understand what she’s teaching. Ongoing assessments help her to see where these students are when they enter her classroom and what progress they make as the unit or year progresses.
Examples of Ongoing Assessments
Now that Ms. Brown understands why she needs to give frequent assessments throughout units of instruction, she wants to figure out exactly what they are. She pulls out some samples she saved from her student teaching days.
- One method of ongoing assessment is a quiz, or short test given to students on a frequent basis.
She remembers her cooperating teacher gave quizzes in math almost every day and used them in social studies and science to keep students on task with vocabulary and learning key concepts.
- Sometimes teachers can use classwork, work students create and complete during class time, such as writing samples or math calculations. This work is a real-time glimpse into what students are able to do.
- She also remembers her cooperating teacher using quick check-ins, such as exit slips, or tasks students complete at the end of class time to check on understanding.
For example, a teacher may give students three math problems to complete before leaving the room that she will look at later to see which students understand and which need more help.
- Teachers can also use observations of students to see if students understand. Teachers can write down notes on students on notecards, in a notebook, or even on a sticky note.
- Questions and discussions also inform teachers about what students understand. Teachers can target specific students, partner and group students for discussions and listen in, or hold a class question-answer session.
- Finally, Ms.
Brown remembers several simple ways she’s seen teachers check in with students, such as asking them to give a thumbs-up if they understand, write work on a whiteboard and show the teacher, complete a graphic organizer, or reflect in a learning log.
Designing Ongoing Assessments
Now that Ms. Brown understands what ongoing assessments are and why she should use them, she’s able to plan and design them into her lessons easily. She knows she needs to sprinkle them around, using them according to her objective. For example, if her objective is for students to learn five vocabulary words, she’ll need to give a quiz to hold students accountable and check whether or not they learned; a simple thumbs-up won’t give her enough information.She also needs to plan ahead for their use.
While it may appear teachers come up with exit slips or discussions on the fly, Ms. Brown knows these exercises are planned. She’ll write them in her lesson plans and make sure she has copies and other supplies she needs, like whiteboards or note cards.Finally, she’ll need to be intentional with their use.
After checking in with students, either by observing or giving a quiz, she will take the information she learned and roll it into future teaching. Sometimes she even needs to rearrange her plans after learning students need more time on a concept. A vital part of using ongoing assessments is taking information gathered and applying it to future teaching.
Ms. Brown is armed and ready for her students this year. She knows she’ll need to teach students and follow up with ongoing assessments, or frequent check-ins on student learning. She’ll use them to determine student comprehension, hold students accountable to lessons, and break content into smaller chunks. She’ll also use the information to drive future instruction and reflect as a teacher.Ms.
Brown will plan for observations, quizzes, discussions, and exit slips. When it comes time for planning, she knows she’ll need to make sure to write plans for ongoing assessments, including materials she’ll need in advance. After giving the assessments, she’ll take a close look at them and adjust her instruction accordingly, either for the whole class or one or two students. This way she’ll always have her finger on the pulse of her students’ learning.