Our guest writer for this week is Michael J. Schneider. Michael holds an M.Ed. from University of Toronto and is a proven veteran education leader within elementary, secondary and K-12 schools. With experience as a teacher, Head of Secondary and Principal at schools around the world, he brings his perspective in effective assessments and evaluations.
Effective Assessment and Evaluation for New Teachers: More than just Marking Papers
Well, there you are: a newly minted teacher, ready to start your exciting career!
There is a lot to think about – getting to know your school and colleagues, discovering and internalizing the flow of the school, organizing your classroom, even getting to know how to get to your new school and back home is an early challenge!
Our upcoming eBook, First Year Teacher Survival Guide, offers great tips on thinking about the many situations that you will face – those that you know about, and maybe even a few that you have not considered. For instance, let’s look at assessment and evaluation. Teach a unit, give a test, total up the marks, hand it back… right? That’s the easy part, you may say, but think again. In fact, having effective assessment and evaluation practices that match your curricular outcomes are one of the most important things you will do to help student learning.
What are the keys to planning effective assessment and evaluation?
Think of it as starting with the end in mind, i.e., “backward planning”. First things first: go to your curriculum documents! The content of your subject matter is one aspect for sure, but what about the verbs that accompany the content specifics? Verbs such as list, describe, explain, compare, develop, solve, create, select, justify, evaluate, prioritize, and interpret are known as command terms. Your students need to be able to do these things with the content, and you are accountable for teaching your students how to do these things.
You can see from the curriculum what the students need to do, so ask yourself the following before you start the actual lesson planning:
- What do my students need to know and do, and how will I know that they have done it?
- How will my students know that they have done it?
- How will my students know what they have to do and be able to demonstrate?
- Finally, what teaching and learning strategies can I use to support that assessment and evaluation format so they get there?”
What’s the difference between assessment and evaluation?
To a new teacher it may seem confusing to distinguish between assessment and evaluation. While yes, they are related, in actual fact they each have a very distinctive role in your teaching and learning strategies.
Assessment involves you working with the student at the beginning, in the middle, and toward the end of the lesson or unit without necessarily assigning a “mark”. There are three types:
- Assessment for Learning – giving descriptive, meaningful feedback tied to the rubric; as you work with the students, you adjust your teaching and learning accordingly to meet needs and gaps along the way;
- Assessment as Learning – teaching students to identify for themselves where they are in achieving the outcomes, reflecting on their work;
- Assessment of Learning – at or near the end of the lesson or unit, you assign a value (a mark) based on the established rubric and qualitative statements describing the outcome.
You may hear parts (i) and (ii) referred to as “formative” assessment, while part (iii) is also known as “summative” assessment.
Evaluation is based on the assessment of learning; it is the statement of achievement of the overall learning outcomes of the course, and provides evidence of the students’ learning at various points over time (such as mid-term report cards). To sum, evaluation is the end result of all of the assessment for, as, and of learning throughout your time with your students represented by a numerical grade to represent the level of achievement.
Effective assessment and evaluation practices are just one key aspect with which new teachers – and even experienced teachers – deal with on a daily basis. Check back soon for our new eBook, First Year Teacher Survival Guide, in which more insights for daily teacher life are detailed!
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