A goal for educators everywhere should be to have a positive relationship between formative and summative evaluations and how classroom instruction and student learning occur. This strategy provides an integrative approach which involves looking simultaneously at the development of assessments while keeping eyes clearly at the standards targeted at all stages of evaluation development. At the same time, being aware of whether assessments support all students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills that they learned in the lesson or unit is critically important. This strategy supports teachers to create the most supportive testing or evaluation options which empower students to meet state or other targets.
For example, many standards in various subjects emphasize ability to work in teams to do a variety of different activities to solve problems. Teachers should consider whether or not their planned assessments have evaluated students' ability to do this.
Teachers should create daily learning objectives that align to the identified standards and will support students' success on progress-, midterm- or final assessments.
To learn more about testing backwash, teachers can consult the link in the resources section.
Determine what is expected of each student over a week period so that they are provided opportunity to share and demonstrate a variety of subject area skills. Teachers might consider using a template like the one in the resources section to support their thinking through unit objectives and assessments.
Decide on which sort of skills or even multi-skill tasks to integrate in multi-day activities. These activities must reflect and support most beneficially student performances in a variety of ongoing assessment needs.
Reflect on the formative and summative assessments after implementation and ask yourself the following questions:
Have they reinforced the skills which students have practiced or demonstrated throughout prior weeks?
Have they reinforced criteria set at a state level as well supporting your own teaching and students' learning?
Examine the assessments from the unit to determine if they were most appropriate for assessing students' skills. Teachers should ask themselves:
Are there too many tests or not enough?
Do the tests accurately evaluate the skills being taught in this unit?
Are the tests equitable and fair so that all students can demonstrate their understanding of the skills?
Consider any identified mis-alignment between unit assessments, standards, and equity while planning the subsequent unit.
When analyzing whether the assessments in a given unit accurately assess the skills of all students, it is important to be particularly aware of the specific accommodations that English Learners may need in order to successfully demonstrate their understanding on an assessment.
Using the vocabulary focus in the Backwash Planning Template, create a language-rich classroom with anchor charts, sentence stems, and word walls. This will help students make quicker language progress.
For support in creating a word wall, consult the link in the resources section.
Communicate with families about assessment success criteria, since families of EL students may not be familiar with assessment demands.
Consider alternate ways for EL students to demonstrate mastery on formative assessment tasks, such as a 1:1 speaking and listening assessment to evaluate students' skills or allowing students to create voice recordings using Vocaroo, FlipGrid, Loom, Zoom, Screencastify etc. to record themselves speaking.
Support students' understanding of assessments using a tool like Listenwise. For more information on using Listenwise, consult the resources section. Perform a 1:1 speaking and listening assessment to evaluate students' skills or consider students creating voice recordings using Vocaroo, FlipGrid, Loom, Zoom, Screencastify etc. to record themselves speaking. See the resource below for how to use Listenwise with ELs.
When analyzing whether the assessments in a given unit accurately assess the skills of all students, it is important to be particularly aware of the specific accommodations that Special or Exceptional Learners may need in order to successfully demonstrate their understanding on an assessment.
Review the strategy "Unpacking an IEP to Support Students to Meet their Goals" in the BetterLesson Lab. Consider students' IEP goals when creating formative and summative assessments. Work with the Special Education teacher to align your content-specific goals to the students' individual learning goals.
Make sure that you are able to provide all appropriate testing accommodations when administering formative and summative assessments.
Clearly communicate with families about students' strengths and gaps as well as the plan to help students make progress. Ensure that both parents and the special educator collaborate to help create a strong plan and become part of the student’s learning community for your class.
Decide which tasks, steps, or assessments can and must be broken up more in order to provide supportive and scaffolding for completing a project.
Distance Learning poses challenges for many teachers. One of the key areas of struggle is in the area of collecting accurate data of student performance. Such data is necessary in order to appropriately analyze testing backwash.
Consult the link in the resources section to learn more about Choice Boards.