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Unformatted text preview: Helping Students
Understand Assessment Formative assessments
promote learning when
they help students answer
three questions: Where
am lgoing? Where am I now? and How can I
close the gap? Jan Chappuis Ltrmg the List LlL‘L‘ULlC.
many schools have begun
to emphasue luunuuvc
Assessman As teachers
work to develop short 
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important users nl lornmurt‘ assessment
inlurmnutm The rt‘seurth tells us why. m mm x tut1 5t l‘lkwl‘lm‘x \xh l ‘ Isl1n I :I \l l‘t‘tnvt xi: ., 39 Necessary Components of Formative Assessment In their 1998 synthesis of research,
Black and Wiltam reported that forma
tive assessment produced signiﬁcant
learning gains, with effect sizes between
0.4 and 0.7. They noted, however, that
in schools achieving these gains,
students were the primary users of
formative assessment information, in
such schools, I Formative assessment began with
offering students a ciear picture of
learning targets. I Students received feedback on
their work that helped them under
stand where they were with respect to
the desired learning target. I Students engaged in selfassessment. I Formative assessment provided an
understanding of specific steps that
students could take to improve. Sadler (1989) had previously reported
similar findings. In describing the role of
formative assessment in developing
expertise, he identified three conditions
required for students to improve: The student comes to hold a concept of
quality roughly Similar to that held by
the teacher, is able to monitor continu
ously the quality of what is being
produced during the act of production
itself, and has a repertorre of altemative
moves or strategies frotn which to draw
at any given point. (p. 121) This research on effective formative
assessment suggests that students
should be able to answer three basic
questions: Where am 1 going? Where
am I now? and How can I close the
gap? (adapted from Atkin, Black, 51
Coffey, 2001). The seven strategies
described in the following sections can
help ensure systematic student involve
ment in the formative assessment
process (Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis, &
Chappuis, 2004). Where Am I Going?
Students need to knew what learning
targets they are responsible for I
t:
f
E
t.
A?!
3
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C] To make significant achievements, students need to know what learning targets they are responsible for mastering, and at What level. mastering, and at what level. Marzano
(2005) asserts that students who can
identify what they are learning signifi
cantly outscore those who cannot. Strategy 1: Provide a demand under
standable vision of the learning target.
Share the learning targets before you
begin instruction, in language your
Students can understand. For example,
when introducing a reading compre~
hension unit calling for inference, you
might say, “We are learning to infer.
This means we are learning to make
reasonable guesses on the basis of
clues." Or provide students with a
written list of learning targets described
in studentfriendly language, such as, We are learning about fractions. We are
learning to I Read and write fractions with halves. thirds, fourths, and tenths. 40 Entitaritwnt. LFADFRSHtP/NOVEMBER 2005 I Read and write mixed numbers lwhole
numbers plus fractions). l Change fractions written as tenths into
decimals. When working with more complex
content standards that call for perfor
mance assessment, such as “Writes
clearly and effectively," introduce the
language of the scoring guide that the
school will use to define quality. To do
this, ask students what they think
constitutes good writing, and then help
them identify where their concept of
good writing matches the concepts in
the scoring guide. if the scoring guide
is above students reading level, you
might want to create a studentfriendly
version. Strategy 2: Use examples of strong and
weak work. To know where they are going. students must know what excel
lent performance looks like. Ask
students to evaluate anonymous work
samples for quality and then to discuss
and defend their judgments, using the
language of the scoring guide in the
case of performance assessments. Such
an exercise will help students develop
skill in accurate selfassessment. Teachers often use strong examples,
or exemplars, but avoid using weak
examples because they worry that
students will accidentally emulate
them. On the contrary, when students
evaluate weak examples that mirror
common problems, they become more
proficient at identifying their own
weaknesses and gain a better under
standing of quality. To introduce work
samples to students, you might 1. Distribute to students a student
friendly version of the scoring guide
you will use to evaluate their final
products. 2. Choose one aspect of quality (one
trait) to focus on. 3. Show an overhead transparency of
a strong anonymous sample, but don’t
let students know it’s a strong example.
Have students work independently to
score it for the one trait using the
student—friendly scoring guide. You
may ask students to underline the state
ments in the scoring guide that they
believe describe the work they're exam—
ining. 4. After students have settled on a
score independently, have them share
their scores in small groups, using the
language of the scoring guide to explain
their reasoning. 5. Ask the class to vote and tally their
scores on an overhead transparency.
Then ask for volunteers to share their
scores and the rationale behind them.
Listen for, and encourage, use of the
language of the scoring guide. 6. Repeat this process with a weak
anonymous sample, focusing on the
same trait. Do this several times, alter
nating between strong and weak papers, until students are able to distin
guish between strong and weak work
and independently give rationales
reﬂecting the concepts in the scoring
guide (Stiggins et al., 2004). Where Am I Now? When my daughter was in 3rd grade,
she once brought home a math paper
with a smiley face, a minus 3, and an M
at the top. When we asked her what
the M meant she had learned, she
looked at us as though we were trying
to trick her and replied, "Math?" When
we asked her what that meant she needed to work on, she frowned and
ventured, “Math?” The quality of the feedback, rather
than its quantity, determines its effec
tiveness (BangedDowns, Kulik, Kulik,
67: Morgan, 1991; Sadler, 1989). The
most effective feedback identifies
success and also offers students a recipe
for corrective action (Bloom, 1984;
Brown, 1994). Grades and other coded
marks—such as J+ and 92%—do not
tell students what areas they need to
improve. Instead, such marks signal
that the work on this piece is finished. Here are some simple actions you
can take to provide effective feedback: I After students have practiced using
a scoring guide with anonymous work
and they understand the meaning of Students gain insight from explaining the learning that their work represents and what they plan to work on next. Papers marked like this one do not
give students the information they
need. At best, such marks might tell the
student, “I’m doing OK in math," but
they will not enable the student to
assess his or her own strengths and
weaknesses. You can use the following
two strategies to help students identify
how they are currently performing in
relation to the learning and actions that
are expected of them. Strategy 3: Offer regular descriptive
feedback. Black and Wiliam (1998)
recommend that to improve formative
assessment, teachers should reduce
evaluative feedback—such as “3+. Good
work!” or “You didn’t put enough effort
into this“—and increase descriptive
feedback, such as “You maintained eye
contact with your audience throughout
your whole presentation" or “Your
problemsolving strategy for dividing
all the people into equal groups worked
well right up to the end, but you need
to figure out what to do with the
remaining people.” the phrases in the scoring guide, high
light phrases that describe strengths
and weaknesses of their work. If you
are working with a multitrait scoring
guide, limit feedback to one or two
traits at a time. I Have students traﬂic light their
work (Atkin et al., 2001), marking it
with a green, yellow, or red dot to indi
cate the level of help they need. Allow
students with green and yellow dots to
provide descriptive feedback to one
another, while you provide feedback for
students with red dots. Strategy 4: Teach students to selfassess
and set goals. In giving students descrip—
tive feedback, you have modeled the
kind of thinking you want them to do
as selfassessors. As a next step, turn
that task over to students and guide
them in practicing selfassessment and
goal setting. You may find it useful to
have students identify the strengths and
weaknesses of their work be fore you
offer your own feedback. Have them
complete a form like the one in Figure 1 ASSOCIA'HON FOR SUPERVISION AND CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT 41 and staple it to their work when they
turn it in. Respond with your feedback.
either on the form or orally. To help students align their expecta
tions with yours, ask them to turn in a
scoring guide with their work, high
lighting in yellow the phrases in the
guide that they believe represent the
quality of their work. On the same
scoring guide, highlight in blue the
phrases that you think describe their
work, and retum the guide to them.
Where the highlighted phrases are
green (blue over yellow), your feedback
matches the students selfassessment.
Any highlighted phrases that remain
blue or yellow. however. indicate areas
in which the student probably needs
to refine his or her vision of quality
(Stiggins et al, 2004). If you are using a selected
response test, you can
arrange the items according
to the learning targets they
assess and give students the
list of learning targets
correlated to the test item
numbers. When they receive Name: One of the strongest
motivators is the
opportunity to look
back and see progress. a time. This strategy breaks learning into
more manageable chunks for students.
For example, suppose that students are
learning to design and conduct scientific
investigations, and one part of the
scoring guide describes the qualities of a
good hypothesis. If students are having
trouble formulating hypotheses, they
can refer to that portion of the scoring
guide as they differentiate between strong FIGURE 1. Student SelfAssessment Form My Strengths and Areas to improve
Traitls): Name of Paper: their corrected test, students Date; can identify which learning targets they have mastered My Opinion and which learning targets My strengths are they need to work on further.
They can then develop a plan
for how they will improve
the targeted areas. This prac
tice is especially effective if
students have the opportu
nity to retake the test. How Can I Close
the Gap?
The final essential step in Work on My Plan
What I will do now is What I think I need to work on is and weak examples of hypotheses,
practice drafting hypotheses, give one
another descriptive feedback on their
drafts, and assess their own drafts’
strengths and weaknesses. Strategy 6: Teach students focused revi
sion. Let students practice revising their
work before being held accountable by
a final grade. You might begin with one
of the anonymous, weak work samples
that your students have evaluated (see
Strategy 2). Focusing on just the single
aspect of quality that they evaluated,
ask students to work in pairs to either
revise the sample or create a tension
plan describing what the anonymous
student needs to do to improve the
work. Then ask students to apply the
same process to their own work, either
retising it to make it better or submitu
ting a revision plan. For
example, after assessing their
draft hypotheses in science,
students could use the
scoring guide to write out
what they need to do to
improve their hypotheses. Strategy 7: Engage students
in seljlrtjllectt'on and let them
document and share their
learning. We know the power
of selfreflection to deepen
learning for adults. It also
works for students. One of My Teacher's or Classmate's Opinion
Strengths include making formative assessment
work is to keep students in
touch with what they can do
to close the gap between
where they are now and Next time I'll ask for feedback from where they need to be.
Strategy 5: Design lessons to
focus on one aspect of quality at Source: From Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing It Right—
Usrng It Wall, by R. J. Stiggins, .l. Arter. J. Chappuis, and S. Chappuls, 2004.
Portland, OR' Assessment Training institute. Reprinted With permission. 42 EDL'LATIONAL ItaotitsnirtNovEMBrR 2005 the strongest motivators is
the opportunity to look back
and see progress. In a skillbased course,
such as physical education,
students can fill out a daily
form that asks two questions:
"What are two important
things you learned from
todays class?" and “What is
one goal you have for
tomorrow's class?“ Student portfolios can
also promote students‘ self
reflection. ln collecting their
work and insights in portfo
lios, students have the oppor— iiiniiv to relleet on their learning.
develop an internal feedback loop. and
understand themselves better as
learners. To Lise por‘tl'oli‘ns in this way.
students must clearly undei'stai'id ilteii‘
learning, goals, the steps ihni they have
taken tmvni‘d reaching those goals. and
how [211' they have come. lnvoh in}:
students in pm‘enteteneher conferences
can neeoinplish the same purpose.
Students gain insight l'mm explaining
to their parents the learning ihgii their
work represents. their strengths as
learners, and what they plan to wort;
on next. Students at the Center The seven sit’alegies Lleseribed here are
designed to help students heilei‘ Linden
Stillitl their learning goals. recognize
their mm skill level in relation in the
goals. and talte responsibility [or How Will You Assess Your Students? The current emphasis on assessment leaves teachers with the difﬁcult task i‘egiel'iing, the goals. By expanding our
l'oi'inaiive assessment pmei tees to
5)‘Sit‘lt‘liltl(;ill) involve students as deeir
sum makers. teacher's aeknmvledge the
eonii‘ihiiiinns lhtll siiiclenis make to
their own success and give them the
opportunity and structure they need to
become active partners in improving
their learning. References .\tltii1.] .\‘l .lilnek l‘., & Coll91] iltltlll
CldX'x'l'tlllm tiuesxnit'iii “ﬁll the National
Stiemt‘ Etlltrtlllilil .Sitiiitltiirls. \\'ns'hingi.nn,
Dt... Xiiimnal :\L‘.1Ll€lll_\' Press. Btlligt‘flilltn‘t'tin. R L . KLiIiic. Cl. LI. Ktilik. A i (it Morgan. .\1 l tlQQIl The
institutional elleet nl leetilraek in test,
like events Rt'vii’iv of L'tlllulflilil Ri‘xumh.
Mill. Zl 3—238 Black. i’ . (St \\'ii;im. D (1998l liisitlc the
bled; lien" liaising Nthilel'dS through
classroom assess'ineni. Piii Di‘litl l'x'iipprm.
Hillll. liU—ldl‘i of how to implement assessment in the classroom. Both practical and
inspiiational, this series of handbooks and casebooks will foster insights
into what students know, what they can do, and how they think mathematically. The practical handbooks will guide you through the major steps of applying
high«quality assessment strategies in the classroom for each grade—band
leveL The cases and discussion questions include detailed case studies of
teachers who have struggled with assessment and succeeded, as well as
extensive facilitator guidelines and questions. Available Now!
Mathematics Assessment:
A Practical Handbook for Grades K—2, 35, 6—8 or 9—12 Mathematics Assessment:
Cases and Discussion Questions for Grades K—5 or 6—12 For more information, visit www.mctrn.0rg / catalog or call toll free (800) 235—7566. I
I
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Tminlng ll‘tSIlLLlIC. Jan Chappuis IS an author and consul
tant at the Assessment Training Insti
tute, 317‘ SW Alder St, Ste. 1200,
Portland, OR 97204; 503—2283014;
[email protected] l Pl‘cr'c‘,‘ iiil‘ \l i‘E il‘tlkli‘x tuii eiiciieu i \i iii«.iiiiiui :: 43 Copyright of Educational Leadership is the property of Association for Supervision &
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