How Can Teachers Assess If Their Students Are Learning And Progressing?

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Continuous assessment gives teachers valuable feedback about your student’s understanding of concepts and the way they apply them…

Continuous assessment is the process of learning about your students by using your daily experiences and observations of their ideas, conversations, drawings and writings. This happens each day rather than at the end of a unit or the week.

Continuous assessment is formative in nature, and gives you valuable feedback about your student’s understanding of concepts and the way they apply them. When you use this data to make decisions about what they need to learn next, you are using information effectively to form new and better practices.

The main idea is to partner with your students during their learning. It is important to understand their thinking so that you can challenge them to expand their knowledge and build on what they have learned. As part of this process, you should help students develop an inquiry-based learning approach, where they identify problems, ask questions, observe systematically and revise explanations based on new facts or evidence. Here are a few suggestions for integrating continuous assessment into your classroom culture:

Planning for Assessment
At the outset, determine the reason why you want to assess your students. Conveying your expectations with clarity, documenting individual student’s progress and improving your instructional methods will help you make a positive impact. Being present to your students both as a facilitator and an assessor could help you find new information when your students are engaged in an activity. Analyzing what you have found will help you understand where each student is in their learning.

Here are a few ways you can organize and plan continuous assessments for your class:

  1. Plan your class time with enough time for you to spend time with your students individually
  2. Include a list of questions with the lesson plan that you could ask your students during the lesson
  3. Create a spreadsheet or notebook with dedicated sections for each student. Note their progress based on your questions and observations
  4. Involve parents in your plan. Send them regular reports on their child’s improvement to keep them updated

Methods of Assessment
There are various tools you should consider using for continuous assessment. Expanding your methods of choice adds an element of variety to the assessment process and also increases the reliability of the data it produces, since you have a more comprehensive approach. These methods may not be new to you, but remember the key here is to plan to integrate a few, if not all of these methods into your plan.

1. Observation
An important method of assessing students is to closely observe student behavior. Ask questions only when you want to understand what they are doing. Make an Observation Checklist to record classroom observations, effectively. You can use this list to observe specific skills such as listening, speaking, writing, comprehension, and so on. During class time, note the frequency at which each student displays the skill and make relevant notes for later reference.

2. Questioning
Plan your questions when you write the lesson plans. This way, you are able to identify questions which will help students think analytically, lead them to ask you clarifying questions, and reveal their understanding of the topic covered. Asking open-ended and purposeful questions is a great method of assessment. A question like “Sam, what did you learn from this experiment?” are more helpful than questions like “Sam, did you understand what this experiment is about?”

3. Self-assessment
Let your students go through regular times of reflection on what they have learned from the exercises they are participating in. You could have them write their reflections and observations in a special notebook. Such practices greatly enhance self-regulated learning and provide them further opportunities to strengthen their learning. They also give you critical insight to assess their level of understanding. At the end of a unit or year, they could share their learnings by creating posters or small cards about it. You could create a display of these on the bulletin board to celebrate their progress.

Like this article for teachers?

Browse the Professional Learning Board COURSE CATALOG to find related online courses for teachers in your state. Professional Learning Board is a leading provider of online professional development classes that teachers use to renew a teaching license or renew a teaching certificate.

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