formative assessment


By Mary Anne Mather, Managing Editor
TERC’s Using Data For Meaningful Change Blog

bo and girl lean over folders on a table and work on indpendent student projects

Photo Credit: Clyde Gaw, TAB Educator

 Too often, when people think about using data, they limit their thinking to consulting test and assessment data from state tests, to district benchmarks, to classroom assessments. And while consulting this level of data has its merits, being truly data-informed requires so much more! As teachers, we can come closer to “data-genius” if we tap the treasure-trove of data that a classroom genius hour reveals… (more…)

GUEST BLOGGER: Mary Anne Mather, Using Data Senior Facilitator & Social Media Liaison on Twitter & FaceBook

I very much enjoyed Part I of Jill Thompson’s blog series about “Using Data to Drive Instruction in the Classroom.” According to her bio, Jill is an elementary math and science facilitator.

I applaud her for sharing her insights and passions about this subject. As a former classroom teacher, and currently as a facilitator for TERC’s Using Data process, I find myself in step with her thinking. Regularly integrating formal and informal assessments into the instructional planning process is a must. It’s not adding more to the plate — it IS the plate…understanding the impact of the teaching process on student learning and using that information to plan the necessary next steps—not only what to teach, but how to engage kids in the learning.

These days there is so much negative emphasis on testing, and I understand the rub when I see test scores being used to punish teachers and categorize kids. But let’s be clear that using data and testing are not the same thing. Data comes in many shapes and forms, well beyond test results and grades (these are just one data point). Teachers have the opportunity to use data as a valuable resource to guide a teaching and learning approach that can ignite learning for all students. As Jill notes–it just takes time and know-how (and an understanding that it’s a non-negotiable).

I plan to follow Jill’s blog series on this topic, and I recommend it to you. Thank you, Jill, for sharing your experiences and helping those who might be uncertain about how to put their data to work as an instructional tool. Your ideas illuminate understanding of a process for using data that can profoundly impact student engagement and achievement.

Guest Blogger: Dr. William L. Heller, Using Data Program Director, Teaching Matters*

Data-savvy investigators never make important decisions based on a single source. When teams following the Using Data process believe they may have found a student learning problem, based on their analysis of standardized testing results, they know to confirm the problem through an examination of student work and other common formative assessments. When they do this, it’s important for them to have a norming process in place to ensure that group of people looking at large scoring checklist with multiple scoring options presented and a large red pencil ready to select the right checkboxthe data being generated is reliable and useful.

Norming is the process of calibrating the use of a single set of scoring criteria among multiple scorers. If norming is successful, a particular piece of work should receive the same score regardless of who is scoring it. With the advent of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, we may anticipate that curriculum-embedded performance tasks will begin to gain prominence over traditional multiple-choice tests, and it will be even more important for teachers to be aware of how to make the best use of these assessments. Whether or not they are rigorous about norming can make a very big difference. (more…)

GUEST BLOGGER: Dr. William L. Heller, Using Data Program Director, Teaching Matters*

There is an important lesson to be learned from a soccer game played between Barbados and Grenada at the 1994 Shell Caribbean Cup. In this tournament, tied games would go to sudden death overtime, and any subsequent goal scored would be a “Golden Goal” worth two points. Barbados needed to win by two to progress to the next round, and in fact they were ahead 2-0, when Grenada scored.

soccer ball on the goal line of the fieldWith just minutes left in the game, a quick-thinking Barbadian player scored on his own goal, tying the game in order to invoke sudden death and buy some time for his team. Grenada’s players then tried to score on their own goal, hoping to lose by one, but Barbados was able to successfully defend Grenada’s goal. The game went into overtime, and Barbados won 4-2.

You would think that it would have taken a great deal to get these players to go against years of training and experience to want to score on their own goals, but all it really took was a momentary change in their accountability system.

We’ve seen a similar effect this year in New York City middle schools. (more…)