"It is worth noting, right from the start, that assessment is a human process, conducted by and with human beings, and subject inevitably to the frailties of human judgement. However crisp and objective we might try to make it, and however neatly quantifiable may be our “results”, assessment is closer to an art than a science. It is, after all, an exercise in human communication."
(Sutton, p. 2, as cited in Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010b, p. 29)
Growing Success (2010) identified seven key steps for effectively assessing student learning:
plan assessment concurrently and integrate it seamlessly with instruction;
share learning goals and success criteria with students at the outset of learning to ensure that students and teachers have a common and shared understanding of these goals and criteria as learning progresses;
gather information about student learning before, during, and at or near the end of a period of instruction, using a variety of assessment strategies and tools;
use assessment to inform instruction, guide next steps, and help students monitor their progress towards achieving their learning goals;
analyse and interpret evidence of learning;
give and receive specific and timely descriptive feedback about student learning;
help students to develop skills of peer and self-assessment.
Types of Assessment
“Teachers need to know about their pupils’ progress and difficulties with learning so that they can adapt their own work to meet pupils’ needs – needs that are often unpredictable and that vary from one pupil to another” (Black & William, 1998, The Argument section, para. 1).
Collecting data, using observations, conversations and student work, is critical for supporting and extending learning opportunities for each child (DeLuca, Volante & Earl, 2015).
Growing Success (2010b) identifies three types of assessment:
Each form of assessment is used in the classroom, but the forms of assessment that build a growth mindset are assessment for and as learning. Assessment for and as learnig "produce[s] significant and often substantial learning gains" (Black & William, 1998) as it drives instruction forward, differentiates student learning and raises students' awareness of where they are on the learning curve and next steps to achieve success.
With this type of assessment both teachers and student have a vested interest in the assessment process. Teachers need to gather information for planning purposes and for providing feedback, and students need the feedback to further their learning and to develop self-regulation skills. Growing Success (2010b) identified seven key steps for effectively assessing student learning (Figure 9). Each step of the process leads to the development of student autonomy. Modeling skills such as assessing, critiquing and evaluating process skills and task criteria teachers support students to become more proficient at self and peer assessments as well as becoming independent, self-motivated learners.
Purpose of Assessment
Assessment for Learning is an asset model which requires educators to:
make learning transparent by co-creating learning goals and success criteria with the students using student friendly language
use effective questioning techniques to determine student understanding
provide meaningful feedback during learning
engage students in peer and self-assessment to build self-regulation
(Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010a)
Assessment to Support Growth Mindset
Assessment for learning “focuses on establishing the points that individuals have reached in their learning, setting personal stretch targets for further learning, and monitoring the progress that individuals make over time.” (Masters, 2013).
Performance tasks are “selected and designed to maximize the likelihood of successful further learning” (Masters, 2013) and feedback given by peers or the teacher provides students with a clear sense of what steps they need to take to reach mastery (Boaler, 2015).
Assessing growth over time helps students have a clear sense of their progress over time and helps them reach the highest expectations possible by striving to reach personalizing learning objectives set from one task to another (Boaler, 2015; Masters, 2013).