During the pandemic, educators, students and families worked together to understand how to keep students on track to success. Most have found that traditional ways of tracking progress and improving academic achievement are not enough in this unique crisis. Students have found it difficult to access educational content like never before. As such, the current educational climate requires unique considerations to assess progress.
Traditionally, student assessment has been based on the educator’s assessment of the student’s efforts, but now more than ever educators understand the importance of taking a more holistic and personalized approach to education and assessment, one that encourages building relationships and help students master their own learning. Here, we explore three evaluation practices HP teaching fellows in the US and Canada to share how they are faring beyond traditional valuation methods.
HP Teaching Fellows is part of Reinvent the Classroom, an initiative of Digital Promise, HP, Microsoft and Intel. Sign up to learn more about the scholarship.
Anna Miller is a gifted eighth grade English teacher in Helena, Alabama. It provides a clear example of how educators can achieve learning objectives by practicing innovative assessment methods.
“Evaluation is something I’ve struggled with for a long time,” says Miller. “This year I have decided that I will accept the overdue job forever. It was really hard not to have a cutoff, but I want them to demonstrate mastery; I’m not that worried about the minutiae. “Can you do the things I’m supposed to make sure you can do?” In English [class], that is ‘Can you read, write and communicate?’ ”
Through this approach, Miller assesses students’ progress in more meaningful ways, instructing them from a co-pilot’s perspective on their learning journey. By giving students more time to submit work, Miller shows that he truly cares about students’ mental well-being and academic success. This also serves as a hands-on approach to education because it gives students more time to master the job. During this particularly unpredictable period in education, it is increasingly important to achieve learning goals while taking into account the unique needs of all learners.
Focusing on a student’s specific areas of growth is much more effective for educators because it allows them to see where each of their students needs help. Working with students and encouraging them to take responsibility for their learning increases the likelihood of academic achievement. This process is particularly rewarding because it allows educators and students the opportunity to connect to learning on a deeper and more meaningful level by addressing needs or concerns together.
In Regina, Saskatchewan, educator Trevor Hlushko is able to better assess the progress of his students by linking their learning goals to personal interests. Focusing on students’ interests encourages them to engage more in the learning process and demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways that can still be effectively monitored.
“I was able to explore [the news] and connect on a personal level with my students. I haven’t even invented it [the reflections]; they are coming up with this. These great ideas that are constantly presented have been really interesting in terms of relevance and making them authentic, ”says Hlushko enthusiastically.
For Hlushko, it is especially important to become a co-learner because it allows her students to take responsibility for their learning, which ultimately adds even more value to their educational experiences. Such rewarding experiences can be particularly useful for developing or maintaining student engagement during remote or hybrid learning.
Monika Moorman, a fourth-grade teacher in Plantation, Florida, uses non-traditional strategies such as self-reflection questions to provide an authentic avenue for assessing student progress. His approach connects directly to the learning objectives and abilities of the students.
“Reflection is essential. It doesn’t have to be a waste of time at all, but you do need to set aside time for students to think about their progress and growth. I incorporate self-reflection questions into most of my assignments: ‘What was the most challenging part of the concept? The lesson? What worked? What didn’t happen? What could you have done differently in the process? ‘ I think release tickets are a great way to achieve the same goal, ”explains Moorman.
Providing students with these reflective resting points allows them to gain understanding of a topic in an authentic way that aligns with their experience. When students are able to engage in learning through a guided personalized experience, they are more likely to be invested in their education and outcomes.