Three Quick Wins: Student-Centered Assessment Strategies

“...we need to do a better job of using our assessments to support equity, as opposed to equality or standardization. We should be working toward assessments—and assessment systems—that help us improve our practices to support student growth and student diversity...In all cases, the important thing is for educators to learn what students are learning (or not learning) as we challenge them to build knowledge, attitudes, dispositions, skills, and practices.” Dr. H Richard Milner IV

Equitable design for assessment demands that we empower students to take agency for their own next steps in their learning. Regardless of where students learn and where they are in meeting their goals, educators can transform assessment into a welcome opportunity for all learners to tell their learning stories.

Designing assessments to be student-centered also develops metacognitive skills that transfer beyond individual classrooms and that push learners forward on personalized pathways for growth. We recently launched the second Quick Wins series delivering three weekly emails focused on making learning visible and actionable for both students and teachers through student-centered assessment. These Quick Wins prioritized three strategies that equip students to exercise agency while ensuring flexibility and access for anytime, anywhere learning.

1) Snapshot Assessments

Assessment is sometimes reduced to a high stakes moment in time: a student taking a single test or quiz. Assessment is instead, an integral process of learning rather than a single anticipated moment. Snapshot assessments empower learners. When a student demonstrates learning and growth areas in multiple ways throughout a process--rather than just at the end--teachers and students gather information about what learners can do next. When we design for frequent check-ins within our learning experiences, we offer students agency-rich opportunities to ask questions, to revisit concepts, and to monitor their progress.

Simple tools like automated quizzes, two-minute conferences, and structured learning reflections are quick to administer yet rich in information for learning. Sprinkled throughout a unit or experience, snapshot assessments are fast ways to keep both teachers and students informed on progress so that everyone can plan for personalized next steps.

2) Process Portfolios

Process portfolios are systems friendly, meaningful, and useful assessment tools that invite conversation, feedback, and engagement on learning. They are adaptable, capturing learning over time in one helpful place, regardless of whether students are learning in-person, online, or between the two. Simple structures like collaborative slide decks established at the start of an experience can become profound spaces for students to share pre-thinking, goals, on-going reflections, and evidence of learning. Diversified modes of audio, video, text and images are easily added for speedy syntheses of progress. And since sharing settings allow anyone to view, peers and caregivers can be invited into the process portfolio to follow protocols for offering feedback and supporting goal-setting.

Process portfolios encourage a growth mindset; they are assessment tools that contribute to a culture of learning that invites risk-taking, reflection, and revision.

3) Self-Assessment

When students are empowered to monitor their own progress and to use that information for future learning gains, they are engaged in transferable metacognitive processes that have exponential impact and transfer potential far beyond our classrooms.

Moments of self-assessment throughout a learning experience invite students to tell the story of their learning -- where they started, where they are, and where they want to go. And when paired with diversified modes (peer-to-peer, student-to-teacher, student-to-self) and tools (reflection protocols, automated quizzes, feedback prompts), they also invite agency and access as students leverage strengths and interests to own their learning stories.

These assessment strategies can be used in online, in-person, or hybrid learning settings. Regardless of where students experience our classrooms, they shift the focus on the learning process, inviting students to partner with us in designing and driving their own pathways.

How are students partnering with you in assessing their own learning and owning their learning stories? Share what you’re trying on Twitter @GOAlearning and by using #goalearning. And continue your learning by exploring upcoming courses.

Are you interested in learning more about sustainable assessment strategies? Check out these GOA articles:

Be a part of what's next.
Let's talk.

Contact Us