Balancing Formative and Summative Assessment

Questions

  • The assessment purpose determines how the assessment evidence will be used.
  • Summative assessment evidence is used to make a judgment regarding student performance.
  • Feedback is most effective during formative assessment, with benefits for both teachers and students.

Video Resources

  • In preparation for an upcoming summative assessment, where might opportunities for formative feedback be integrated into the instructional sequence?

Assessing Projects and Performance Tasks

A teacher at Ascension of Our Lord School in Calgary discusses some of the planning that goes into designing an effective project.

Questions

  • When using projects and tasks, it is essential to focus on the outcomes the project is going to assess, rather than on peripheral factors.
  • Once the learning destination is clarified, appropriate choices for student products become apparent.
  • When opportunities for ongoing feedback are built into the project plan, students have the opportunity to do their best work.
  • Group projects require special planning to ensure that group work does not equal group marks.
  • Video Resources

  • While projects are often a way to engage students, how can we be sure a project is aligned to high priority outcomes and therefore worth doing?
  • Flexible Timing for Summative Assessment

    A teacher at McNally High School in Edmonton allows for flexibility in the timing of summative assessment in the classroom.

    Questions

    • Not all students are ready for summative assessment at the same time.
    • When an individual student's summative assessment results are inconsistent or surprising, the teacher uses conversations and observations to mediate judgments made about student performance.
    • Teachers have the responsibility to exercise informed professional judgment in regard to their classroom assessment practices.

    Video Resources

    • What are the potential drawbacks to a flexible timing approach for summative assessment? How might these be overcome in order to realize the benefits to student learning?

    Using Feedback Effectively

    Students need support in knowing how to use feedback effectively.

    Questions

    • Peers can provide a unique perspective during feedback conversations.
    • Teachers provide support by modelling and coaching.
    • Teachers also need to teach protocols to ensure respectful dialogue among peers.

    Video Resources

    • What support do our students need in order to feel more confident with the peer feedback process?

    Student Engagement: A Shared Responsibility

    A teacher at McNally High School in Edmonton understands that student engagement is a shared responsibility.

    Questions

    • Teachers need to consider the amount of evidence required in order to determine that a student has met a learning outcome.
    • Providing choice along with open-ended questions helps engage students in their learning.
    • Reflecting on an assignment that did not work out as planned can be an opportunity to make improvements to the assignment itself.

    Video Resources

    • Consider an assignment for an upcoming class. Anticipate how the students might perceive the assignment and whether or not they might consider it to be worth doing. What changes might you make to increase the level of student engagement, i.e., commitment?

    Planning Effective Questions

    In order to guide next steps in instruction and assessment, a teacher at McNally High School in Edmonton incorporates effective questions into his instructional plan to determine student understanding of a concept.

    Questions

    • Effective questions provide teachers with information about how well students have grasped key concepts and skills.
    • This information allows teachers to make adjustments to their instruction.

    Video Resources

    • What are the characteristics of effective questions that can provide teachers with information about student learning in real-time?
    • How could we create time to allow teachers in our school to collaborate and develop these effective questions?

    Planning for Student Diversity

    When planning for instruction, a Division II teacher from Weinlos Elementary School in Edmonton considers support for diverse learning needs.

    Questions

    • A completion checklist can be used to foster student independence..
    • Discussing the rubric with students can help clarify expectations.
    • Students are more engaged when they are provided with choice in how they demonstrate their learning.

    Video Resources

    • What practices might help the diverse learners in our classes develop confidence and a positive attitude towards learning?

    Offering Choice

    To meet the needs of the diverse learners in the class, a teacher at Ascension of Our Lord School in Calgary provides her students with choice.

    Questions

    • There are a variety of ways that students can demonstrate a learner outcome.
    • Providing students with choice is one way to meet individual learning needs.
    • Student confidence and engagement can be enhanced when students are provided with choice.

    Video Resources

    • When might it be inappropriate to offer students choice in how they demonstrate their learning?
    • Consider where you might embed choice in an upcoming student assignment.

    Feedback to Improve Learning

    An art teacher at Harry Ainlay High School in Edmonton helps her students see value in the feedback process.

    Questions

    • Feedback provided during the learning process gives students time to make changes and improvements before completing a project.
    • Feedback gives students opportunity to ‘push’ others and themselves forward with their learning.
    • Self-reflection is an essential component of the feedback process.
    • The teacher works to create a safe environment where peer feedback and self-reflection can flourish.

    Video Resources

    • How can self-reflection, and peer and teacher feedback become a regular part of our classroom assessment practice?

    Assessing Process Skills

    An art teacher at Harry Ainlay High School in Edmonton discusses the value of using observations and conversations to assess outcomes related to the development of skills and techniques.

    Questions

    • The teacher plans opportunities for observations and conversations in order to assess outcomes related to skills and techniques.
    • Students are provided with opportunities to review and improve their skills prior to summative assessment.
    • Note how students use a journal to track and reflect on their growth.

    Video Resources

    • In an upcoming assignment, how might students be involved in contributing to the body of evidence about their learning relative to process skills?

    Planning for Day to Day Assessment

    Planning for assessment is part of day-to-day instruction for a teacher at St. Elizabeth Seton School in Calgary.

    Questions

    • A clear understanding of the learning outcomes makes it possible for teachers to plan for assessment before planning for instruction.
    • The teacher incorporates purposeful questions into the lesson, and builds in time for students to reflect and think.
    • The teacher employs a variety of formative assessment techniques to ensure all students are actively engaged in the lesson.
    • Student responses to well designed questions can inform next steps in instruction.

    Video Resources

    • What benefits could result through an intentional focus on planning effective questions and questioning techniques?

    Assessing What Really Matters

    By identifying key learning goals and building quality rubrics to assess them, teachers can help students focus on the learning that really matters.

    Questions

    • Learner outcomes should be front and centre when designing student tasks.
    • Within a project, the most important learning is often found in the skills, rather than thinking of the product as an end in itself.
    • Teachers build assessment capacity as they rework previous assessments to focus more closely on outcomes.

    Video Resources

    • What support will students need to shift their focus away from cosmetic factors towards higher level skills?

    Engaging Students in their Learning

    Teachers at Holy Spirit School in Sherwood Park share how the use of mini white boards provides opportunities for students to be deeply engaged in the assessment process.

    Questions

    • Mini-whiteboards can be easily constructed with minimal expense.
    • Students are engaged and able to take risks with their learning.
    • the teacher can immediately spot misconceptions and provide timely feedback.

    Video Resources

    • Engagement means more than simply keeping students interested; true engagement implies a level of commitment. How might mini-whiteboards contribute to student engagement in an upcoming lesson?

    Communicating about Student Learning

    A teacher at Kinuso School involves students in reflecting on their learning, thus facilitating meaningful communication with parents.

    Questions

    • Students gain greater clarity when they engage in meaningful discussion about the outcomes, and reflect on their progress.
    • Parents/guardians appreciate the ongoing communication so they can support the child's learning.
    • The teacher gains important information about how students perceive their progress. This information helps teachers design appropriate instructional support.

    Video Resources

    • How could we design a process to support student learning and enhance communication with parents/guardians?

    Supporting Student Success

    A teacher at McNally High School in Edmonton describes a number of summative assessment practices he uses that reflect his commitment to fair and equitable assessment of student performance.

    Questions

    • Rigid grading structures and weightings can work against success for many students.
    • Students have a responsibility to prepare for any 'second chance' opportunities they receive.

    Video Resources

    • The teacher expressed his belief that "it's never over until it's over." What processes might be put in place to ensure that students do not take advantage of this level of flexibility?
    • How can the use of professional judgment in giving students the "benefit of the doubt" be seen as consistent with the goals of fairness and accuracy?

    Feedback to Inform Practice

    A secondary teacher at Hilltop High School in Whitecourt describes how she organizes her classroom in order to obtain feedback that informs her practice.

    Questions

    • Students gain confidence when they receive feedback through individual and small group conversations.
    • The teacher uses information gained through these conversations to address mis-conceptions and/or to extend student learning.
    • Gaps in understanding that are common to many students can be immediately addressed with the whole class.

    Video Resources

    • In an upcoming lesson, where might a feedback opportunity be included, with the goal of informing instructional practice?
    • What details might be addressed during the planning phase to ensure the feedback provides helpful information?

    Developing the Skill of Self-reflection

    A teacher at Monsignor Fee Otterson School helps students develop the skill of self-reflection.

    Questions

    • Exemplars help students identify the qualities of effective work.
    • A supportive environment helps students develop confidence so they are open to receiving feedback and reflecting on their work in progress.
    • Self-reflection helps students take ownership of their growth and learning.

    Video Resources

    • How can student self-reflection play a greater role in our classrooms?
    • What additional support and instruction will students need in order to be successful?

    Engaging Students through Effective Questions

    A teacher at St. Elizabeth Seton School in Calgary uses 'paper tweets' to help her students reflect on their learning.

    Questions

    • Students make connections to and deepen their understanding of prior learning as they engage in self-reflection.
    • Meaningful questions guide self-reflection.
    • Both teachers and students benefit from this process.

    Video Resources

    • How might we collaborate to design high quality questions that would support this type of student reflection and engagement?

    Just-in-Time Feedback

    Teachers at Monsignor Fee Otterson School highlight the benefits of providing students with just-in-time oral feedback.

    Questions

    • Quality feedback, provided while work is in progress, is more useful than waiting until the work is done.
    • Timely feedback helps support students in determining next steps in their learning.
    • Conferencing also provides feedback to the teacher to inform and shape future instruction.

    Video Resources

    • How can classrooms be structured to allow for opportunities for timely one-on-one feedback?

    The Impact of Teacher Feedback

    A teacher at St. Jean Brebeuf School in Calgary structures her classes so that she has many opportunities to provide feedback to her students.

    Questions

    • Feedback related to specific learning goals is most effective while learning is occurring.
    • Teachers also benefit from feedback they receive during conversations with students.
    • Teachers need to plan time to give immediate, personal oral feedback.

    Video Resources

    • Where could you insert a feedback opportunity within an upcoming student assignment? What additional planning might ensure this is an effective use of time?

    The Impact of Peer Feedback

    A teacher at St. Jean Brebeuf School in Calgary utilizes peer feedback to impact student learning.

    Questions

    • Feedback should promote thinking.
    • Teachers can provide purposeful feedback prompts to assist students with the peer feedback process.
    • Both the student giving feedback and the one receiving feedback benefit from the feedback experience.

    Video Resources

    • How might peer feedback help my students become more reflective about the quality of their own work?

    Helping Students become Resources for One Another

    Grade 6 students and their teachers from Medicine Hat Public Schools are experiencing the benefits of peer feedback.

    Questions

    • Peer feedback can be a powerful tool to support student learning.
    • Students learn to be critical users of the feedback they receive.
    • The teacher's role changes when students learn to give and receive effective feedback.

    Video Resources

    • Where could you utilize a peer feedback experience in an upcoming student assignment? If your students are new to peer feedback, remember to start small and provide support through modelling, time for practice, and on-the-spot coaching during the feedback experience.

    Establishing the Conditions for Peer Feedback

    Teachers from Percy Baxter Middle School found that peer coaching can only be effective when a supportive environment is established and students are able to develop the appropriate skills.

    Questions

    • A supportive classroom environment is required in order for peer feedback to be effective.
    • Peer feedback must be modeled and practiced.
    • Both teachers and students agree that peer feedback must be accurate.

    Video Resources

    • Why might students be reluctant to engage in peer feedback?
    • What does a supportive classroom environment 'look like'?
    • To what extent do our assessment practices create a supportive environment in our classrooms and school that would allow for effective peer feedback?

    The Power of Student Collaboration

    A teacher at St. Elizabeth Seton School in Calgary structures her class so her students have many opportunities to work collaboratively.

    Questions

    • Collaboration provide opportunities for students to think more deeply about their learning.
    • Through discussion and collaboration, students are not only engaged, but also build confidence.
    • Students are provided with many opportunities to practice, and to apply skills and strategies.

    Video Resources

    • Consider where student collaboration would be appropriate in an upcoming lesson. What skills might your students need in order to collaborate successfully?

    Multiple Opportunities to Demonstrate Learning

    A teacher at Jasper Elementary School uses portfolios as a planning tool to support the growth of the diverse learners in his classroom.

    Questions

    • Portfolios are an effective way to keep track of student progress over time.
    • Students use portfolios to reflect on their understanding of outcomes.
    • Students are given multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning; time is not the determining factor.

    Video Resources

    • What organization will be required in order to allow this degree of flexibility for students?

    Providing a Risk Free Environment for Diverse Learners

    A teacher at Notre Dame High School in Calgary finds that individual student response whiteboards provide a risk-free environment for students to demonstrate their learning.

    Questions

    • Whiteboards provide students with the opportunity to think, discuss and respond in a risk-free environment.
    • This formative assessment tool allows for diversity of student responses.
    • Student responses can alert teachers to any misconceptions students have, which in turn assists teachers in determining next steps in instruction.

    Video Resources

    • How might the use of mini-whiteboards increase student engagement and learning in an upcoming lesson?

    Observations and Conversations: Effective Assessment Practices

    A teacher at St. Elizabeth Seton School in Calgary uses observations to find out what her students know and can do.

    Questions

    • The teacher ask questions and observes students at work to determine what students are ready to do or learn next.
    • The teacher circulates to provide timely feedback and to differentiate for student needs.
    • Note how the students value the opportunity to have conversations with the teacher.

    Video Resources

    • Consider where timely feedback might be included in an upcoming student assessment task. What additional planning might be required?

    Meaningful Assessment within a Group Context

    Careful planning assists teachers in gathering meaningful assessment information about individual students though group tasks and projects.

    Questions

    • Although the students are working on a group project, teachers ensure their assessment evidence is gathered from each student’s individual contribution.
    • Note how the teacher involves students in determining characteristics of effective contribution to the group.
    • Students are given opportunities to practice a skill prior to being assessed.

    Video Resources

    • Although it might be considered an efficient strategy, why is it inappropriate to assign a group grade to individual students?
    • Select a project where group grades have previously been assigned. What modifications might be made so as to gather assessment evidence from individual students?

    Developing Common Understanding through Collaborative Marking

    Teachers at Notre Dame High School in Calgary engage in collaborative marking to ensure they have a common understanding of quality.

    Questions

    • When teachers engage in collaborative marking, standards are more likely to be consistently applied from class to class.
    • Collaborative marking enhances teachers' professional capacity by providing opportunities to share promising practices.

    Video Resources

    • How could collaborative marking become part of our school culture without compromising individual teacher responsibility for designing instruction and assessment?
    • How could collaborative marking support teachers who are new to the profession or new to a grade level/subject area?

    Setting Clear Targets for Students

    A teacher at Notre Dame High School in Calgary uses exemplars to help students understand the expectations of an assessment task.

    Questions

    • The teacher uses language from the rubric to help students understand what is required.
    • Exemplars assist students to understand various levels of quality.
    • Group discussion provides an opportunity for students to be actively engaged in the task.

    Video Resources

    • What benefits might students experience by participating in this process at a point while their work is in progress?

    Developing a Shared Understanding

    A teacher at St. Jean Brebeuf School in Calgary recognizes that when students have a deep understanding of the learning goals, they are better able to achieve them.

    Questions

    • The teacher clarifies the learning goal for herself before planning for instruction and assessment.
    • Students use rubrics and exemplars to understand the characteristics of quality work.
    • Note how the students respond to the process the teacher has implemented.

    Video Resources

    • The process used by the teacher required an investment of time for planning, collecting exemplars and working with students. Why might this investment of time be worthwhile?

    Clarifying Standards through Professional Collaboration

    A teacher at McNally High School in Edmonton discusses the essential role of collaboration in developing a common understanding of standards.

    Questions

    • In Alberta, programs of study identify what teachers must teach.
    • Other documents, particularly at the Grade 12 level, identify the expected standard of performance.
    • For grade levels and subjects where standards documents do not exist, teacher collaboration, along with the program of studies and samples of student work, can support teachers to achieve consistency in grading.

    Video Resources

    • What benefits might students experience when teachers collaborate to determine standards?
    • What structures need to be in place to support this collaborative work at our school?

    Essential Components of the Planning Process

    A teacher at McNally High School in Edmonton discusses the many facets of the instructional/assessment planning process.

    Please enjoy the video while this section is under development. The Discussion Guide will be available soon.

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