Assessing students is often the key to understanding their knowledge of subject areas, as well as their learning needs. Teachers must use varied assessments and analyze the data results when planning further instruction. Many tools exist to help with this task. By using assessment and data tools and taking the time to review the areas requiring more in-depth teaching, you can help your students learn more and perform better at school.
Reading is an area where children often struggle, and teachers need to spend time reteaching specific skills. Using running records can help you pinpoint the types of errors your students are making in their reading. Ask the reader to read aloud a passage while you mark errors on a separate sheet of paper. Look for error patterns and check for accuracy. Using a running record is an ongoing assessment that provides information for reteaching and can help you determine when to advance reading levels. Other reading assessments include checklists for sight words and vocabulary words, short answer or multiple choice tests and project assessments conducted individually or in small groups. These tools will help you determine specific skills as well as comprehension of materials read.
Other than the typical skill and drill, teachers sometimes have a difficult time assessing students when it comes to math. While timed tests and drills can help you determine how well a student has memorized facts, it does not provide other insight into learning. Using a performance assessment can help you understand how your math student is thinking and where errors are occurring. Performance assessments measure student learning of the curriculum and use real world problems or issues. Ask the children to defend their answers to you or to a group of students while you note their thought process and ability to explain thinking. Other possible math assessments include checklists and classroom observation notes.
Data helps teachers determine how well students are progressing and if they need further intervention for struggling students. Collecting data should be routine and scheduled for the information to be reliable. Assess advanced or benchmark students monthly and struggling students every two weeks. Students with intensive learning leads should be monitored weekly. Once you have determined the type of assessment you will use, you can begin data collection. Keeping a data notebook will allow you to monitor all of your students individually and as a group. To create the notebook, use a large three-ring binder and tabs to mark names and subject areas. Store assessments and scores in the binder. Instructors can also use data walls to show learning growth. Arrange data cards by performance level and move the cards across the wall as students show academic growth. A challenge of this tool is keeping the cards anonymous and displaying the wall in a place accessible only to teachers in order to protect privacy. You can also use the computer to create graphs, highlight target scores and complete a written analysis of each assessment.
Using the Data
The purpose of collecting data is to help guide instruction and meet the needs of learners. Once you know how each student is performing, set goals for him that will show progress. Select those with lower scores for intervention, or smaller more individualized instruction that lasts around eight weeks. Collect data often, and at the end of the intervention time, look at the data trends and determine if students met the goal. For higher students, set different goals in line with their own performance. Use whole group time or small groups to allow these students to work at their level and assess them at the end of the quarter to determine if their goals were achieved. At the end of the assessment period, set new goals to encourage student growth throughout the year.
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