Formal assessments give teachers insight to the academic strength and weakness of each student and dictate what actions to take for any needed intervention. The data gathered from a formal assessment will reveal whether low scores are exclusive to the student or class — or whether they affect the entire school population.
Accountability is the new buzzword for education policymakers, and formal assessments are tools that will be used to gauge if schools are operating with a high level of accountability. Formal assessments answer the accountability question with concrete data. These assessments are valuable tools that educators can use to evaluate the progress of a student on a particular subject. The use of formal assessments aligns with the new education reform mandates to use data-driven instruction because of its ability reveal proficiency levels. They are an indication of how a student is doing and how well a teacher is performing. Data obtained from formal assessments allow teachers to see how well a student is progressing and target specific areas.
Response to Intervention
Systematic use of formal assessments will significantly impact the response to intervention timeframe and help to ensure that all students attain a proficient rating in academics. A formal assessment will give insight on the level of intervention needed for a struggling student. Plan RTI using the data from the formal assessments for a comparative analysis of grade, school, district and national levels. The RTI can be adjusted after a formal assessment based on the results of the data. The formal assessments data reveal the needs of students from the national level down to the individual classroom.
Staying on Top
Analysis of systematic formal assessments answers pertinent questions like, “How am I doing as a teacher? How am I doing as a student? How am I doing as a class? How are my students performing compared to their own personal growth, compared to others in the class and compared to grade level, school, district and state?” The answers will reveal whether any low scores are exclusive to the targeted audience or whether the entire school population needs an overhaul. This process will allow teachers, schools and districts to stay on top of gains and set finish line goals.
Many forms of formal assessments are available such as the essay, selected-response tests and constructed responses. The essay is an excellent opportunity to integrate Bloom’s taxonomy skills in the curriculum. It allows students to summarize and synthesize a topic and to develop thinking — or intellectual — skills. A constructed response test tells how well a student can organize, recall, recognize and clearly communicate previously learned information. Constructed responses require students to use higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation. An example of this type of test is a fill-in-the-blank exam. Selected response assessments, on the other hand, tell if the student has the basic factual information and age-appropriate cognitive skills by offering multiple-choice answers.