District Administration February 2018 - 60

ProfessionalOpinion
Putting tests to the test
Fostering effective formative assessment
to inform applicable problem-solving in students

I

recently heard a friend ask his student a question that captures how
parents and teachers should discuss
future aspirations. The question was not
"What do you want to be when you
grow up?" Instead, he asked the boy,
"What problems do you want to solve
when you grow up?"
Today's students will enter a workforce filled with jobs not yet fathomable, prompting students to identify
problems they care about to provide
their education with a purpose that goes
beyond job training. As our economy
continues to evolve at a quickening
pace, shifting the focus from positionspecific to problem-specific grows more
important each day.
How do we know if our K12 schools
are equipping students with skills to
solve the problems they hope to solve by
only using standardized exams? These
high-stakes, summative exams reveal less
about what an individual student knows
and more about our education system's
overall performance.
To better understand how-and if-
teachers are equipping students to solve
real-world problems, we must reflect on
teaching practices through sound, formative assessment.
Powerful tool
Formative assessment is not a new idea,
but the credibility surrounding it is. The
practice focuses on informing learning
rather than only measuring it. It captures an ongoing, academically focused

DAmag.me/test
60 February 2018

Formative learning is
powerful because it
happens during the
learning process,
not at the end when
the quiz is given.
portrait, providing specific feedback on
student performance throughout the
learning process. In contrast, summative assessment utilizes data to provide
information once learning is complete.
Formative learning is powerful because
it happens during the learning process,
not at the end when the quiz is given. It
is a key to individualized instruction because students are redirected mid-lesson
based on their needs and performance.
Effective formative assessment relies
on key drivers. Instructional planning
must be based on learning goals with
specific success criteria. Such expectations clearly communicate to students
exactly how-and to what level-they
should perform. Effective formative
assessment also requires providing students with descriptive feedback, which
creates the opportunity for meaningful
dialogue between parents and teachers.
Imagine if a teacher gives a student
feedback such as, "The second argument in your paragraph does not have
any evidence from the article to support
it. What portion of the article supports
what you are arguing and how could
you add that as evidence?"
As a parent or as a student, it becomes clear what falls short and how to
go about improving. Nothing is more

By Pamela Roggeman
frustrating than when a student is at a
loss for how to improve performance.
Connected to specific feedback is
another key to sound, formative assessment: planning for students to take
more responsibility for their own learning. Students can be more self-reliant
learners when they know specifically
what is expected of them and they
know what degree of success they are
achieving while they are learning.
Refining learning
Implied in this process is one necessary
resource: time. Some teachers have relied on technology to help monitor the
work in classes with large numbers by
virtually visiting students at their desks
as ongoing feedback demands. Others
have used creative grouping in the classroom as a way to make sure students'
instruction is tailored individually. But
perhaps the greatest resource in the pursuit of ongoing formative assessment is
the help of a student who has become
a more engaged, independent learner.
With the student as a partner, helping
to diagnose deficiencies and areas to
refine, learning becomes an efficient
collaboration.
Conversation at our dinner tables
can then shift from "What did you
learn in school today?" to "If you could
solve one problem in society, what
would it be?" and then finally, "How
did what you learned in school help you
in that pursuit?" DA

Pamela Roggeman is the Academic Dean
for the College of Education at University of
Phoenix and served for more than 17 years as
a secondary education teacher.
District Administration


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration February 2018

District Administration February 2018 - Intro
District Administration February 2018 - Cover1
District Administration February 2018 - Cover2
District Administration February 2018 - 1
District Administration February 2018 - 2
District Administration February 2018 - 3
District Administration February 2018 - 4
District Administration February 2018 - 5
District Administration February 2018 - 6
District Administration February 2018 - 7
District Administration February 2018 - 8
District Administration February 2018 - 9
District Administration February 2018 - 10
District Administration February 2018 - 11
District Administration February 2018 - 12
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District Administration February 2018 - 14
District Administration February 2018 - 15
District Administration February 2018 - 16
District Administration February 2018 - 17
District Administration February 2018 - 18
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District Administration February 2018 - 20
District Administration February 2018 - 21
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District Administration February 2018 - Cover3
District Administration February 2018 - Cover4
District Administration February 2018 - 66
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