Monitoring the performance of your students is a critical part of understanding where they are in the educational process. Varied assessment approaches are necessary to diagnose and evaluate learning issues in a fair, balanced and unbiased manner. For that reason, most teachers use a number of approaches to monitor classroom performance.
Formal assessments are tests or rubrics designed to evaluate a student's understanding of the subject. Formal assessments are only effective if they are given within controlled conditions and if the students know exactly what is expected of them ahead of time. Formal assessments are designed to be objective, so they are often used when comparisons between classrooms need to be made. In most cases, the tests are taken directly from the curriculum.
Informal assessments of classroom performance come primarily from the teacher's observations as she interacts with the students. Some teachers use checklists to keep track of things like participation, oral reading skills and behavior. When enough data is gathered, the checklists can be graphed and used to evaluate classroom performance. A concern with informal assessments is that they can contain inadvertent biases. For that reason, they are not usually used for grading purposes.
Portfolios are an excellent tool to monitor classroom performance over time. They contain samples of student work from different times during the school year. Ideally, the work will show improvement as the year progresses. Portfolios are often used to illustrate problem areas during parent-teacher conferences.
Peer and Self Assessment
Peer assessment is a valuable tool in monitoring classroom performance. After all, learning involves students, and that necessarily extends to assessing the learning. In addition, peer feedback can motivate some students far more than the feedback they get from the teacher. As students uplift and encourage each other, the classroom environment becomes more positive, and effort increases as a result. Students can use teacher-created rubrics when evaluating their peers, or they can simply talk about one another's work and offer suggestions for improvement. Self assessment is also important. If the teacher makes his expectations clear, the student should be able to determine whether or not she met those expectations. In turn, she will learn more about her own skills and take more ownership in her learning.
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