CREATE Week: Don Klinger on Classroom Assessment Use

I’m Don Klinger, Professor of Measurement, Assessment, and Evaluation from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. Educational jurisdictions continue to search for educational policies and practices that will enable teachers to better support students’ learning and achievement. Along with efforts to modify educational curriculum and standards, a critical area of focus has been on assessment practices within the classroom. With its roots in formative program evaluation, formative assessment is considered a critical tool in the efforts to improve students’ learning. Current conceptions of formative assessment have acknowledged that teachers and students are critical users and beneficiaries of formative assessment. Teachers can use this information to guide and modify instruction, set new instructional goals, and meet individual students’ needs. Students can use this information to guide their own learning and identify learning strengths and weaknesses, and these in term help to enhance self regulation, cognitive development, and metacognition.

As a result of these promising findings and supporting theoretical frameworks, prek-12 educational research, standards of practice, and educational policies increasingly work to implement formative assessment practices that enable both teachers and students to be “users” of classroom assessment. And this is where the challenges begin. Our work with suggests that while teachers are able to implement formative assessment practices, these practices are often relatively simplistic and prescriptive. Teachers often struggle to use the assessment information to direct their instruction. Perhaps more importantly, students continue to largely be passive receivers of assessment information. They are not given sufficient skills and knowledge to use formative assessment to guide their own learning.

 

Yet, we are making inroads, and these successful efforts are based on the principles of “utility” found within program evaluation. The new Classroom Assessment Standards for preK-12 Teachers, (Joint Committee on Standards for Education Evaluation, JCSEE), contain 16 Standards for sound and effective classroom assessment under three headings: Foundations, Use, and Quality. The five Use standards have certainly arisen from the “Utility” standards found in the Program Evaluation Standards. Admittedly, the language and format has been modified to fit the preK-12 education context. As one example, central to the use of formative assessment is Effective Feedback (Standards U2): Classroom assessment practices should provide timely and useful feedback to improve student learning. We now work directly with teachers to give them the skills to provide descriptive feedback that is focused on modifying and shifting students’ learning. At the same time, we are helping to train teachers to provide students these same skills in order to support effective peer-and self-assessment. It seems those of us in classroom assessment research continue to follow the lead of program evaluation. It is now about “Use.”

Rad Resource: The Classroom Assessment Standards for preK-12 Teachers available as an ebook from Amazon.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching (CREATE) week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members of CREATE. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “CREATE Week: Don Klinger on Classroom Assessment Use”

  1. Sajeni Mahalingam

    Hello Don Klinger,

    Your article piqued my interest because I am currently doing pedagogical research on assessments and evaluations at McMaster University. More specifically, I want to use assessments as a learning tool rather than using assessments solely for evaluation purposes.

    I agree that formative assessments are great learning opportunities, but like you stated I often find that students don’t take formative assessments seriously. University students are reluctant to do work if they are not for grades and when they complete formative assessment they don’t put in their full effort. In fact, most of the time instructors are not able use the information gathered from the formative assessments to redirect instruction. How can these challenges be overcome? How can we ensure that formative assessments are used by students and instructors?

    I am currently taking a course at Queens University called Program Inquiry and Evaluation. Learning about the process of program evaluation has made me realize that it can be scaled down to evaluate learning strategies used in the classroom. It makes sense that the use standards for sound and effective classroom assessment have been adopted from the utility standards for program evaluations. How are teachers trained to give them the skills to provide descriptive feedback that is focused on modifying and shifting students’ learning? How do teachers transfer these skills to students to support effective peer-and self-assessment?

    Thank you for sharing and I would love to hear more about your research.

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