Benefits of Recording Formative Assessment

It’s our Open House night. Parents pour through hoping for insight on how their child’s school experience is going. However, this isn’t a night to talk about students. It’s a night to talk about curriculum, general class structure, and possibly specifics about projects or assignments currently underway or coming up.

My fallback is my web site because everything is there. Parents respond positively to the web site as it is very informative and it’s not only a way for students to know what is going on but parents as well.

However, the big surprise came when a few parents added,

“Oh, and I love how you monitor their progress”

“…she looks at Power School and sees improvement and it makes her feels so good about herself”

“I like how you can see how they are learning.”

And I’m surprised and pleased that they’re following Power School that closely and that they recognize my attempt to monitor and follow progress.

There is definitely a train of thought that supports not recording or reporting on formative assessments. However, my policy is to record and report on as many formative assessments as possible.

But not checking this box in Power School, the number will not be included in the students' grade.

But not checking this box in Power School, the number will not be included in the students' grade.

For example, with my Entry Tickets I can actually quantitatively determine how much a student knows at a given time. This number then gets recorded in Power School as a non-counted Test/Quiz score (it is removed from impacting their final grade). Thus, students (and parents) can see different “progress reports” throughout the unit. The content of these entry tickets will ultimately be the content of the unit test so the progression should directly be reflected in their test score at the end.

At a glance I can determine who is progressing and I can target struggling learners, especially during group and individual work. Currently, my 8th graders are working on a lab that contains negative and positive controls and for some reason they are really having a difficult time wrapping their heads around this concept.  However, many are grasping it and I can see it. There are a handful who remain very unsure and today during the lab I spent time with all lab teams but was able to linger longer with those students who I know, based on their entry tickets,  are really struggling more than the others. My goal was to help them visualize the concept with their experiment.

Tomorrow’s Entry Tick will, indeed, tell me if the visualization helped!

The practice of reporting on formative assessment has yielded some surprising results:

  • In the time it takes students to prepare for our first activity, I know who needs help and I know exactly what I need to focus on that day (and isn't that the entire purpose of formative assessment?).
  • Students become more focused on learning specifics.
  • Students ask more questions.
  • Students arrive more prepared to class, knowing I’m going to probe their knowledge.
  • Student know they will get more chances to learn the topic, and have hope if they still 'don't get it'.
  • Students seem happier and more motivated to tackle difficult topics.
  • Being questioned in a quiz format de-stresses the entire experience of “being tested”. It’s just part of learning now.
  • No time is wasted at the beginning of class because students are engaged as they walk through the door, already reading through their entry tickets.
  • Oh, and parents are happier.

My entry ticket assessments and the recording of them is spreading to all of my classes!