Benefits of Assessment Types & How They Work Together to Support Your Instruction

As you’re probably already aware, assessing students’ understanding and attainment can be done in many ways. This could be from self-evaluation and student interviews to formative and summative assessments. All techniques have their place in the classroom. Using a combination of these will create a holistic picture which can really help you understand exactly where your students are at.

Let’s take more of a look into formative and summative assessments and discuss how they can play a part in helping your students grow their knowledge and skills.

All about summative assessment

Summative assessment is normally carried out at the end of a year or term, and its purpose is to evaluate a students’ learning of a topic/topics over that time period.

Summative assessment helps you as a teacher to evaluate your students’ progress from whichever starting point you have identified. It also supports you with identifying gaps between students’ understanding and learning objectives to decide how best to move forward with your instruction.

Here are some methods of summative assessment

End-of-unit exams – where students take a formal exam to evaluate understanding.

Portfolio/cumulative work – where students complete work over a longer period of time and put it together into one piece of work to demonstrate understanding.

Standardized tests – such as those that are administered to show school results.

All about formative assessment

You might say that formative assessment is more diagnostic and informal than summative assessment. It is designed to give ongoing feedback on a subject area to help you adjust your teaching and learning methods as you go.

Feedback from formative assessments can help give both you and your students an idea of where they’re at and what extra support they might need. Many formative methods fit quickly and simply into daily classroom life, and whilst some feedback may be recorded, on-the-spot feedback allows misconceptions to be identified and addressed in the moment.

Here are some methods of formative assessment

Quizzes – these can be created by students or yourself. Ask students questions, and allow them to work through incorrect answers as a class so they can gain a better understanding of how to get to the correct answer.

In-class clicker systems – students use clickers to answer multiple choice questions to check for mastery in the class.

Cumulative presentations – after a subject area has been taught, you could task students with creating a presentation so you can see their thoughts and understanding.

Linking summative and formative assessment

Sometimes there isn’t really a clear line between formative and summative assessment and they can be done in very similar ways.

The main difference between the two, however, is that formative assessment is part of the instructional process and helps you inform changes for your teaching methods. Summative assessment helps see where students are at in their learning.

Mainly though, they are both ways to assess students, and are ideal for giving students feedback. They inform instructional changes too, as well as adjust future lesson planning, and sometimes, even the curriculum offered in schools.

Why is assessment important

Ultimately, both assessment types are important to a students’ learning progress and both look to help students with an end result – improving their understanding and helping them succeed.

It could be said, though, that you should spend as much time on formative assessment as summative. Both are really valuable for students’ success with their progress and understanding.

With both methods, you can help your students succeed, as well as get insights into their progress and where they are with targets or learning goals. This is why your school’s learning program should consider both, in addition to any other strategies you may use.

Connecting the Dots with EducationCity’s Assessment & Reporting Features

We’ve launched some exciting changes on EducationCity recently, to support our journey to becoming an integrated assessment and curriculum content resource.

As part of our 20th year providing educational resources to schools worldwide with EducationCity, we’ve added to our offering and ever-growing bank of resources. We’ve been busy looking into how we can support teachers with their time and challenges. This is where, with teacher feedback, we started our assessment journey.

As part of this journey, we undertook some user testing on assessments with a research company called Schoolzone. From this, we found that 97% of respondents said our assessments are pitched correctly for age-related expectations. Also, 98% said our assessments are appropriate preparation for standardized testing.

With this feedback in mind, we expanded our range of assessments which involved our team of educators writing over 4,000 new assessment questions. These were all curriculum-linked and with the view to helping teachers with providing more personalized support. Alongside this too, we also had the view of helping them with identifying gaps and saving time with differentiation.

Depending on which curriculum you’re following, we’ve added assessments in all year groups and these include:

EducationCity Assessments

 

Also, we have a number of different types of assessments as you can see, which we explain below.

EducationCity Assessment

Formative Assessments

These are available in maths and English and are ideal for helping you to gauge where your students are in their understanding. When your students take these, you can adjust instruction and planned teaching and learning activities to adapt to your students’ understanding.

Summative Assessments

Appearing in maths, English and science, our summative assessments are ideal for the end of the year so you can get a full picture of your students’ understanding and evidence for end of year reporting.

Unit Assessments

Unit assessments are currently available in maths and aimed at testing students’ understanding of individual concepts. These aregreat for checking whether your class is ready to move on to the next concept you plan to teach, and which students might need a bit more support to get there.

Revision Journals

When formative and unit assessments are taken, a Revision Journal is generated for a student which is ideal for addressing any misconceptions and is great for remedial work. It pulls together resources to support them on weaker areas identified in the assessment.

Revision Journal

Reducing Teacher Workload with the Assessment Report

Our new Assessment Report can be found in SuccessTracker. Let’s go over a few ways the data from assessments taken by students can help you manage individual students’ learning.

Assessment Report

Identify Gaps to Support Intervention

The Assessment Report allows you to see misconceptions and gaps in understanding at a glance.

Broken down by objective and question, you’ll be able to see which students answered correctly and incorrectly, as well as the answers they gave. This is all done in real-time so you’ll get results instantly. From here, you can also easily decide which students need further intervention, and what support they might need to master a concept.

Differentiate Learning Easily

Finding time to differentiate learning is the eternal teaching challenge, and the Assessment Report can take some of the work out of that.

Clicking on any question allows you to easily group students based on their level of understanding. It’s great for re-teaching or just grouping students together to do some peer teaching. This is a great tool if you’re using blended learning in your classroom. Particularly if you work with a station rotation model, you can support students who may need it, ask students to work on their Revision Journal or instruct your students to peer teach as well.

Rewarding Your Students for Their Success

If your students score higher than the minimum score set in Preferences, they’ll be able to print a certificate to celebrate their achievement (you’ll also be able to print one out in SuccessTracker).

Certificate

These developments are only the beginning of our journey! We’re now looking to create teacher-generated assessments where you can build your own assessments, as well as adapting our reporting areas even further to support you, and creating Revision Journals which are adaptive and support development in foundational skills.

All this with the purpose of supporting you with saving time and helping you gain valuable insights to support your instruction. Our developments help connect the dots between instruction and learning, assist with ability grouping and inform lesson planning.

We’ll be talking more about our assessment and reporting developments next year, so keep an eye out for more!

Introduce Topics & Reinforce Understanding with EducationCity’s Learn Screens

Lesson planning can be time consuming, especially when you want to be providing each student individualized learning across the whole classroom environment.

This is where we want to help you out! In this blog, we’re going to focus on how one of Edmentum International’s solutions, EducationCity, can support you with managing your workload.

Not too familiar with EducationCity? Let us tell you a little more…

EducationCity introduces a wealth of teacher resources online, to help you plan for targeted instruction, and to help pinpoint specific classroom objectives, giving you more time to do what you do best… teach.

Introducing Learn Screens

Example of EducationCityLearn Screens within EducationCity are a great tool to engage your whole class in introducing a new topic on a projector or interactive smart board and can be assigned to individual students to support intervention.

They are designed to introduce an objective or concept in an engaging video to glossary format… a bit like an animated slideshow. Each Learn Screen utilizes the familiar EducationCity characters, who grow with students as they progress through their early years and primary years, in a student-friendly, real-life scenario to explore a topic.

How can Learn Screens support students’ learning?

  • Helps with grasping topics and is useful when supporting the understanding of a concept. They take students through each objective step-by-step, and they are engaging and colourful, so they’re great for learning with.
  • They support mastery of concepts because students can go through them at their own pace – perfect for understanding concepts and for test preparation!
  • With audio and text reinforcement they are fantastic to use within an EAL program.

Want to explore Learn Screens? Sign in to your EducationCity account to give them a go for yourself and see how they’re great for introducing a new topic.

How Exact Path Can Maximize the Value You Gain from Your NWEA Map® Assessments

Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) Growth Assessments are used by schools all over the world. The adaptive tests are fantastic for helping teachers understand the level students have reached in their learning, regardless of the academic grade they are in, and provide teachers with the data necessary to produce individual or group instructional plans.

Even with their support, however, developing a meaningful individualized plan for each student involves a considerable amount of work when the average class may contain up to 25 children. Which is where, we at Edmentum International can help, with our award-winning solution, Exact Path, for students aged 3-14.

In this blog, we’ll look at exactly what Exact Path is, explain how our partnership with NWEA Map® works and, most importantly, outline the benefits for students and teachers.

What is Exact Path?

Exact Path’s an individualized learning solution, covering reading, language arts and math, which enables teachers to deliver the right lesson at the right level at exactly the right time to meet the needs of all their students in one classroom.

No matter whether students are working below, on, or above grade, Exact Path will deliver carefully created content, developed by our in-house subject matter experts, to meet each student’s needs and help them progress.

How do Exact Path and NWEA Map® Assessments work together?

By uploading MAP® Growth assessment Rasch unit (RIT) scores to Exact Path, students receive an individualized pathway of content just right for them. The illustration below shows how no more than four skills are selected at once, and the curriculum components each lesson module might include.

Example of individualized learning pathway

Student Benefits

Exact Path enables students to take ownership of their learning and control when, where and the pace at which they learn. Focusing on no more than four skills at one time keeps them motivated and focused, and having to access to a full mix of curriculum-aligned, instructional material, mastery quizzes and teacher-graded activities helps them fully engage in their learning.

After completing their set of four skills, students are given a Progress Check to check they’ve understood what’s been covered, and ensure they are ready to receive additional skills. As students demonstrate mastery, learning is propelled forward; if additional remediation is required, automated Building Blocks allow students to address any gaps that exist.

Teacher Benefits

Uploading your class’s NWEA Map® Growth results to Exact Path, gives you a definitive starting point for each of your students, and provides a structured learning pathway to ensure subsequent instruction is focused where it is most needed for them to progress.

Harnessing the information from the assessment, it puts you in control, enabling you to:

  1. Monitor class performance by skill – You can view learning path progress by skill to make real-time instructional decisions.
  2. Evaluate individual progress – Student summary reports detail all learning path activity for a specific student, they help you track progress, plan for instruction, and are great to use when talking with parents and other stakeholders.
  3. Create data-driven small groups – Grouping students of similar ability can require a lot of time. But Exact Path does it for you, allowing you to focus on student instruction.
  4. Assign targeted content – You can search for standards or skills-aligned content within Exact Path, and build individualized assignments to ensure your students receive the just-in-time instruction, remediation, and enrichment they need.

Want to know more about how NWEA Map® and Exact Path work hand in hand to power individualized learning? Our team is on hand to provide you with more information. Just call us on +44 (01572) 492576 or email us on international@edmentum.com.

Understanding Mastery-Based Learning

As a teacher, the chances are you hear about ‘mastery-based learning’ on a regular basis, but do you feel all your colleagues and students’ parents understand the benefits of implementing this style of learning in your school?

Let’s begin with outlining what mastery-based learning is. Mastery-based learning is an instructional approach where students need to demonstrate a deep level of understanding of a topic or subject area before progressing onto another topic or subject area.

Essentially, having the ability to solve a calculation is not enough; students now need to have the ability to justify their calculations, saying it is correct or incorrect because…, and they must be able to solve related word problems in context.

Mastery-based learning surrounds itself in the premise that different students will take different paths to attain the desired understanding, and different students may need more or less time on topics or subject areas than others.

It covers the fact that there needs to be more personalized support so that students can master concepts before they move onto another. This eliminates the need for some students being bored as they cannot move faster in an age-based group classroom scheduled on covering certain areas of a curriculum within a timeframe, and it also helps some students who are unable to keep up with the pace of learning.

With the rise of technology to support mastery, and a more refined and proven understanding of mastery-based learning as a concept itself, many schools are adopting it around the world.

EducationCity’s ThinkIts are very good for mastery and also, the Activities are useful for mastery because we’ve taught the lesson, and then the children go off and actually do it. So therefore they are applying, and therefore they are gearing themselves up towards getting mastery of that particular subject area.”

Mrs Papworth, Year 1 Teacher, North Downs Primary School

What are the student benefits?

  • Learn deeply in ways that are best for them.
  • Have engaging and meaningful ways to demonstrate mastery.
  • Personalize the learning experience to them and learn at a pace that best suits their needs, whilst providing the right balance in terms of how challenging learning should be.

Some parents will wonder whether students having their own differing learning paths and differing speeds of learning will mean some children will learn less, more slowly. In fact, research shows that schools that implement mastery-based learning have higher overall student attainment progress. It doesn’t mean that students learn faster, but that students have higher levels of learning within the curriculum. The overall experience means students move ahead with a similar range of speed but they learn better too. Students won’t have gaps in learning like in today’s model.

So how do I implement a mastery-based learning model?

There are a few questions to consider when implementing a mastery-based learning model which should be considered before using this strategy in your learning environment.

1. Planning for change and reviewing success

When implementing a mastery-based learning approach, do you have the tools in place to plan for changes and assess whether it is successful in your learning environment?

2. Monitoring and communicating student progress

In this approach, you will need to evaluate whether your students have successfully mastered a concept before moving onto the next, so how will you monitor and communicate student progress?

3. Support between students

How are you going to provide opportunities for students to help each other master content?

4. Choosing topics and concepts appropriate for mastery-based learning

Mastery learning can be effective as a teaching strategy in addition to those you already use. How are you going to select and choose the topics and concepts that are appropriate for a mastery-based learning approach?

5. Providing help and support

For those students who take a little longer to master concepts and attain the required level of knowledge for each unit, how are you going to provide additional support?

By implementing mastery-based learning, the focus is placed on the student and maximizing every student’s potential to ensure success is the only option, and that they are ready for college and their future careers.

A Tour of EducationCity

Want to find out more about EducationCity? Then why not find out more from a student’s point of view! We’re pleased to suggest watching Rithwik, a student from GEMS Our Own Indian School in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, deliver a tour of EducationCity with specific focus on what students can see. He covers some of the features and resources we showcase every day here on the Edmentum International Team.

This video has been created for GEMS Our Own Indian School and used with permission.

What’s New at Edmentum International?

After spending countless hours speaking and collaborating with teachers and students, and reviewing user feedback, we’ve used your experiences to ensure we’ve adapted our solutions to meet the unique needs of the people who matter to us the most – you. Our educator partners are at the forefront of everything we create here at Edmentum International and we continue to evolve our solutions to support your challenges.

So that’s why we’ve recently had a whole host of feature upgrades and updates, and we’re going to discuss the updates for three of our solutions – those being Exact Path, Courseware, and EducationCity. So what’s new at Edmentum International? Let’s discover our updates.

What’s New… Exact Path

Educator Feature Updates

  • Hide Subjects for Faster Navigation

If your school has multiple subjects in Exact Path, great news, because teachers can now customize their interface to show only the subjects they teach or want to monitor. You can easily update your profile by going to your My Profile page and then hiding any subjects. Just to note, by default, every subject you have on Exact Path is displayed.

Exact Path

  • Print Progress Check Trophy and Challenge Certificates

With printable Certificates and Trophies, you can celebrate your students’ achievements and keep them motivated towards reaching their academic goals. Teachers can now easily print individual Progress Check trophy certificates from the Student Summary Report, and Challenge certificates from the Challenges area for students too.

Exact Path

Student Summary Report

  • Retrieve the Data You Need Easily

We’ve issued another update to help make Exact Path reports more meaningful and easier to read, helping you save time and get the data you need quicker.

So, the Student Summary report now shows how a learning path was generated in the instance the learning path was not generated by taking the Exact Path diagnostic. Educators will see either “Path-Based Off Renaissance Star Score” if they are Renaissance users, or “Manually Generated Path” in the instance the path was auto-generated.

What’s New… Courseware

User Interface Enhancements

  • Educator Review

Courseware now includes further detailed summary information to help you visualize data. There is also a new icon/flag for courses not included in the program course catalog (you’ll see these as they are designated by a hazard sign), which makes it a lot easier to manage what you are able to see.

  • Browser Instructor Delivery

When creating sections, administrators will now be able to browse for instructors by name, adding more flexibility and making it easier to find what you need to see.

Reporting Enhancements

  • Course Audit Report

A new Gender data point has been added to this report so you can see these particular students’ performance.

Courseware

Customized Instruction with Gradebook

  • Approve Credit Enhancement

Within the Gradebook Report Card, instructors can now approve credit for multiple learners with the new multiselect/select all functionality, which makes it much easier and quicker to do this task.

  • Optional Activities

Users can now create and assign optional activities to students, making the platform more adaptable for your use.

  • Drop & Reset Scores

You can now easily drop and reset scores for students, which helps you by making Courseware more flexible and adaptable to your needs.

Courseware

What’s New… EducationCity

Dashboard News Feed

  • Homepage Update for Admins/Teachers

A news feed feature has been added to the EducationCity dashboard. Admins and Teachers will find the latest blog posts from Edmentum International here. Blogs will consider new and existing product features and resources, topical resources and more, so you can be sure you’re always up-to-date with the latest and greatest content.

EducationCity

If you have any questions about any of these updates or would like to find out more information about any of our solutions, get in touch with us on +44 (0)1572 492576 or by emailing international@edmentum.com.

Let’s Explore STEAM

So, what does STEAM mean to educators and what does it have to do with teaching? Well, let’s explore this area and see how you can integrate it in your classroom.

What does STEM stand for?

Originating from the term STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), STEAM investigates the same concepts, but does this through inquiry and problem-based learning methods used in the creative process, by blending Arts into the equation. So STEM became STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics).

Now let’s explore some of the best ways you can integrate STEAM in your classroom…

  1. Cross-curricular activities are one way to achieve a natural coming together of the sciences and arts. Asking students to design, build, draw, and physically create what they’re learning about is a great way to implement this concept, as it enables them to visualize a topic through artistic expression, but it helps engage in deeper levels of comprehension by applying these concepts in new ways.
  2. Planning collaboratively with other teachers can innovate ways in which you can integrate STEAM concepts into your lessons. Co-planning not only helps you manage lesson ideas, but it also helps you to ensure that you’re effectively meeting the needs of all of your students, but also enables you the chance to brainstorm ideas and test concepts before putting them in front of students.
  3. Encourage Exploration in career planning to determine how to integrate STEAM subjects. Explore possible careers through job shadowing opportunities or job fairs is a good first start. For younger students, a career day could be the first step in opening minds to possible STEAM careers. Technology can be a powerful tool to make connections across disciplines and enables students to pursue individual interests.

Let’s put STEAM into practice…

Science/Technology Ideas

  • Incorporate technology by having students create a blog as they are reading. They can make it in Google Docs so other students can comment and expand on what they have written.
  • Complete non-fiction research and collaborate it with a science concept/experiment. Learn about how scientists and engineers come up with new ideas by learning about what others have tried, and then using creativity and trial/error to complete their own experiments.

Maths Ideas

  • Students are to come up with an item to sell and have to make it themselves. Use fake money and give them an allocated time to buy and sell, enabling them experience buying, selling, bartering, and trading. Social studies and maths can be combined and students can experience advertising, supply, demand, profit, and loss in a personal way.
  • Practice measurement, volume, mass, and area by challenging students to design something to hold some kind of item (can be anything in the classroom).

We hope you enjoyed exploring STEAM with us!

Data-Driven Decision Making: Four Considerations

So you’ve put together an assessment, administered it to all your students, marked and graded each one, and have now gathered a list of all the students’ results by individual skill. Now what? How should you effectively use that data to guide your instruction? Looking at data, analyzing it and implementing tailored solutions can seem lengthy and time-consuming but it is an essential part of the process when making decisions about individualizing your instruction. To help guide you through key considerations when making data-driven decisions, we’ve developed an infographic below.

 

Data-driven decision making infographic

Data-Driven Decision Making: Organizational Changes

Data-driven decisions are also best supported by infrastructure and policies to support them. So there may be some organizational changes you’ll want to consider. We’ve outlined some here.

1. How data is managed

You’ll want to create a data system or improve your current one to effectively collect, transfer and manipulate information. Adjusting data access and management practices to different people in the school can help to ensure timely delivery and this can improve the likelihood of data being used.

2. Understanding of findings

You don’t need to be a super genius with spreadsheets at all, but the ability of staff to create plans for analyzing scores and understanding the results may require some support. Training may be needed on best data practices, data analysis and accessibility or data management. Overall, you should make sure that data can be accessed easily by the people that need to access it, which can involve making sure data is presented in a user-friendly format and in an accessible place.

3. Create a culture where data use should be evident

To facilitate data use, you’ll want strong leadership and systems of accountability. You could have policies that outline data use requirements or incentives for using data, or even a formal plan for its use. But by encouraging data sharing, you can help to promote a culture where staff should reflect on data together, and support them in doing this by allocating time and resources for analyzing data and using it.

Although many educators now have access to a lot of data at their fingertips, it’s crucial that decision makers know the benefits and limitations of data, the data they should be familiar with to improve their decision making, and how that data can effectively be used for successful decision making.