Assessment for learning (AFL) has been a long-standing practice in the field of education. Unfortunately it continues to be misunderstood and under utilized. In our ever advancing technological age how can tech / online resources be used to assist educators in implementing AFL in their classrooms? Here are a few links to sites that may spark some ideas:
Digital Technology Tools for Implementing Formative Assessment
5 Fantastic, Fast Formative Assessment Tools
Integrating Assessment and Instruction Using Technology and Performance Assessment
Assessment for learning has become a hot topic amongst educators across the globe. Having assessment inform your practice and influence how, what and when you teach certain topics is the fundamental piece behind AFL. Constructive feedback used to inform students of areas in which they can improve allows a student to engage in meaningful learning with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding at a later time. One shot tests with no time for reflection or evaluation of areas for improvement don’t move learning forward.
But how many of us are trained to assess? Think back to your teacher training and think about the time spent developing a ‘good’ test or fair form of assessment? If my experience is any indication the time spent learning how to assess was minimal at best. How then do we expect teachers to be able to jump into a pressure cooker profession and learn the tricks of the trade while at the same time being fair evaluators of their students understanding? Only after a teacher has spent a fair amount of time in the profession, lets say more than 5 years in a consistent position, will they be in a position to evaluate their place and role in the educational landscape. I am in my 15th year of teaching and am just coming to grips with my failures as a teacher and areas I need to improve upon based upon a new level of comfort and understanding.
How do we speed this cycle so it doesn’t require a teacher going through the bad before they understand the good? Is it the role of faculties of education to ensure pre-teachers are given the tools needed to be solid judges of student learning? Is it the role of sponsor teachers to drill the benefits of AFL into their student teacher’s heads? Is it the role of school boards to run workshops prior to hiring teachers to ensure an even playing field of understanding? The answer is never simple and probably lies somewhere amongst all these possibilities but one truth remains, the insanity of assessment will continue to isolate, educate and assimilate teachers everywhere.