formative assessments

What does assessment without testing look like?

3 educators share their preferred methods of alternative assessments.

Educators at all levels agree on the need to assess what their students know, but a growing number of them find that tests are not the best way to do it.

This trio of educators has found innovative ways to empower their students to show what they know.

Assessments as Progress Monitoring

Linda Baker, K-4 literacy specialist

Traditional tests are not always the best indicators of our students’ success because many of them are reluctant readers to begin with, so we can’t always rely on a measure on any particular day. We don’t know what’s happening at home. We don’t know how they’re feeling. There are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account when we do all our screenings.

We do a lot of progress-monitoring for each skill that we teach. Every week our students learn a different skill, and every Friday we progress-monitor to see how the skill is being used—for example, can they properly read the words we have assigned?

We also monitor the data we get from Reading Horizons, the computer-based program we use for our literacy teaching, to see what needs to be taught longer and what students have mastered. We then make our student groups accordingly. There’s a lot of flexibility, with students moving from group to group as they master various skills.

We see our students and use Reading Horizons on a daily basis, so if a student doesn’t seem to be doing his or her best work, we continue to monitor that student on a daily basis and adjust accordingly.

(Next page: 2 more ways of assessing without testing)

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