In our recent public opinion research study, Make Assessment Matter, we surveyed over 1,000 students from around the country, representing different demographics and socio-economic brackets, on their thoughts, feelings and knowledge of assessment. They turn out to have a more sophisticated understanding of assessment than we expected, and that finding delights us. That said, we’ve learned that there are still misunderstandings about different kinds of assessment, and what they are used for by most students. And when you add parents into the mix, who may not understand the different kinds of tests their children take – there is lots of room for confusion around assessments.
Teachers understand that high-quality assessments are integral to the teaching and learning process, and that the best assessments can help students know where they are in their learning while also informing parents of their child’s academic progress. That’s why so many educators emphasize the importance of assessments that are student focused and support student learning.
So to have productive conversations with students and parents about assessment, teachers should be able to share these things:
- What each assessment is intended to measure
- The importance of all classroom assessments and the need for all students to do their best
on all tests
- How assessment results will be used by the teacher and the school
Talking about assessment with parents can be an ongoing conversation that covers a range of topics, including:
- The purpose of each assessment
- What tests are being used in their child’s classroom and how they differ from each other
- Their child’s learning progress, as indicated by both assessment results and classroom observation
- Academic strengths and weaknesses of the child, and what both teacher and parent can do to address weaknesses and support additional growth for areas of strength
- The testing process and how it impacts the teaching and learning process
Student academic success requires coordinated teamwork, between teachers, students and parents. When all involved understand the learning objectives and how students are moving toward them, great things can happen.