Formative Assessment

These days, it seems like education is overrun with the words ‘assessment’ and ‘accountability.’ It can feel overwhelming, exasperating, and intimidating. Sometimes, all three at once.
But, imagine, just for a minute, that none of the institutional machinery of schools existed. None of the politics or policy. That it was just you and your students, and your only job was to help them become as successful as possible. What would you do to teach better? What would you do to ensure they were successful? That they reached their full potential?

And then, what if I told you that the single most effective tool for success is feedback. Consistent, timely feedback. Research backs up this simple fact. The faster the feedback, the better. The more individualized and personalized, the better.

‘Well, I already knew that!’ you might say, ‘but how do I do it for thirty students? Or sixty students? Or one hundred and fifty?’ The answer is formative assessment. All that means is regularly checking for student understanding using simple, repeatable tasks to make student learning visible. The old adage “show, don’t tell” brought to life.

Formative assessments are feedback for you, the teacher, to let you know if you’re teaching effectively and if students are getting it. And it allows you to give quick, targeted feedback to every individual student, focused on what they know right now, and where they need to go next. They don’t need to be averaged into a final grade.

At Gradeable, we’re building software optimized for formative assessment. We make it easy to give quick, targeted assessments that can be graded quickly and analyzed immediately. You’ll know how every student is doing as soon as you’re done grading, and you’ll be able to make informed decisions about what to teach (or re-teach) next.

—Andy

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