12 Must-Read Articles About Assessment


by TeachThought Staff

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There are great books about assessment (Tomlinson’s on assessment in the differentiated classroom are good, for example), and PD too (which among other fantastic companies, we also offer, details of which you can read about on wegrowteachers.com.

What about articles, essays, and blog posts?

Below we’ve gathered 12 of what we consider ‘must-read’ articles about assessment. They purposely cover a variety of different angles, from purpose to function to assessment strategies. We could come up with another 12 tomorrow, and the next day, and so on, so we don’t intend for this to be an exhaustive (it’s only 12) list that is the final word on assessment. It is, rather, a good start. The list features TeachThought content, but the vast majority (8 of the 12) come from other sites and resources.

Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed one you consider something your colleagues should know about and we’ll consider it for any follow-up posts we do.

12 Must-Read Articles About Assessment

1. The Most Important Question Every Assessment Should Answer by Terry Heick

Excerpt: “The benefit of assessments for learning isn’t merely a more clear picture of understanding; Used properly, it can also inform the rest of the learning process, from curriculum mapping (what do we learn when?) to instruction (how will it be learned?) to assessment design (how should future learning ideally be measured?)”

2. 7 Key Characteristics Of Better Learning Feedback by Grant Wiggins

Excerpt: “The more I can get such timely feedback, in real time, before it is too late, the better my ultimate performance will be – especially on complex performance that can never be mastered in a short amount of time and on a few attempts. That’s why we talk about powerful feedback ‘loops’ in a sound learning system.”

3. Why I Won’t Be Using Common Formative Assessments This Year by Peter Anderson

Excerpt: “By reducing students to data points and teachers to impotent technicians, the PLC model aligns itself with what Paulo Freire called ‘the banking model of education.’… I’m arguing that PLCs are yet another form of the banking model of education. I don’t believe that Richard Dufour created PLCs out of a malevolent desire to shortchange teachers and students. I do believe, however, his desire for accountability and results through shared instructional methods has been misguided.”

4. Culturally Responsive Differentiated Instructional Strategies by Metropolitan Center For Urban Education

Excerpt: “The disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in high-incidence special education programs (mental retardation, learning disabilities, and emotional disturbance) has been a concern for more than three decades (Klingner, Artiles, et.al, 2005). Extensive research suggests many factors are at play in the disproportionate representation of minority students in special education including a teacher’s lack of knowledge about culturally and linguistically diverse children (Villegas & Lucas, 2002), and their propensity to label the behavior of these students’ as negative and inappropriate (Klinger, Artiles, et. al. 2005).”

5. Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding by Todd Finley

Excerpt: “‘When the cook tastes the soup,’ writes Robert E. Stake, ‘that’s formative; when the guests taste the soup, that’s summative.”

6. Assessment For Learning, the Achievement Gap & Truly Effective Schools by Rick Stiggins

Excerpt: “Yet, paradoxically, assessment as conceived, conducted, and calcified over the past has done as much to perpetuate the gap as it has to narrow it. This must change now and it can. As it turns out (again paradoxically), assessment may be the most powerful tool available to us for ensuring universal student mastery of essential standards.”

7. Shifting Your Assessments To Grow Higher-Level Thinking by Beckie Stobaugh, TeachThought PD Workshop Facilitator

Excerpt: “Madaus, West, Harmon, Lomax, and Viator (1992) determined that only three percent of assessment items on tests represented high-level conceptual knowledge and only about five percent of the total items sampled assessed higher-level thinking skills of any type. The other ninety-five percent of items sampled involved low-level skills of recalling information, calculating, and using formulas to solve routine problems similar to problems worked in the textbook or in class.”

8. Teachers Going Gradeless: Toward a Future of Growth Not Grades by Arthur Chiaravalli

Excerpt: “For others, gradeless means without grades, that is, avoiding the damaging and demotivating effects of grades entirely. These teachers are trying to put the focus squarely on learning, eliminating grades in favor of feedback and growth. Some may even work in schools that have replaced traditional report cards altogether, using portfolios or descriptive evaluations instead.”

9. How Should Learning Be Assessed? by Luba Vangelova

Excerpt: ‘High-stakes tests concern Zhao the most, because he says they represent more than misspent time and money. He faults them for suppressing creativity and innovation, and creating narrowed educational experiences, because everything that is not measured becomes secondary or is dismissed entirely. Moreover, “constant ranking and sorting” creates stress and makes students less confident.’

10. The Inconvenient Truths About Assessment by Terry Heick

Excerpt: “It’s an extraordinary amount of work to design precise and personalized assessments that illuminate pathways forward for individual students–likely too much for one teacher to do so consistently for every student. This requires rethinking of learning models, or encourages corner-cutting.”

11. What Is Understanding? by Terry Heick

Excerpt: “Perhaps the most powerful thing that you can do to combat the slippery notion of understanding is to use numerous and diverse assessment forms. And then — and this part is important — honor the performance on each of those assessments with as much equity as possible.”

12. 6 Common Misunderstandings About Assessment Of Learning

Excerpt: “Over the past two decades there has been a lot written, and much discussion, around the use effective use of assessment in the classroom.

Unfortunately, many educators, particularly at the secondary school level, continue to cling tenaciously to “traditional” practices which are, at best ineffective and at worst, counterproductive to the goals of modern education.”

12 Must-Read Articles About Assessment