Formative assessment is easily and understandably misunderstood. For many teachers, formative assessment is synonymous with “benchmark testing,” or periodic standards-based, objective tests. Because we are moving out of the age of the California Standards Test, which was objective, and quite frankly, easier to prep for, and into the era of the new computer-based, constructed response assessments, it might help us to rethink the definition of formative assessment. This video, Maryland Formative Assessment (Click Here) does a fine job of defining formative assessment.
Why is formative assessment important? John Hattie’s work Visible Learning details 138 factors that influence student learning, and among them, formative assessment, or “formative evaluation” as he terms it, has the third largest effect size on student achievement! This, of course, is no surprise to a teacher who uses formative assessment strategies in class because formative assessment gives feedback to the student while learning is taking place, and it gives feedback to the teacher during the lesson. It simply makes sense that formative assessment, giving feedback on learning as learning takes place, increases learning outcomes.
Oncore is a formative assessment machine. If a teacher uses Oncore consistently, he is collecting meaningful data, as students learn. In my classroom, I use Oncore daily, and I’ve noticed the following effects of Oncore as a formative assessment tool.
1. I focus on what the student is learning because I’m always making a concrete evaluation, using the Oncore colors. Every time I check for understanding, I’m processing how much a student gets it, and I can give meaningful corrective feedback in context.
2. I think a lot more about content standards because I easily attach a content standard to assignments and classroom activities.
3. My students are aware of what weak, emerging, and strong content and skill knowledge is using the color hierarchy.
4. Increasingly, my students want to know my evaluation of them. They want to know if I think they are “right.”
5. The classroom is less focused on a letter grades, and more focused on proficiency. Knowledge is acknowledged, and hard work is rewarded.
In short, Oncore has integrated formative assessment into my daily practice seamlessly, and, as importantly, easily. It fits right in to what I’m doing anyway, but helps me to do it better.
How has Oncore functioned as a formative assessment tool in your classroom?