Purpose of Assessment by Tyler Wood

The purpose of assessment is not just to find out how well the students understood and retained the material from the class, but a self-assessment of the teachers ability to transfer that knowledge. Assessment is used for improving the learning in a classroom as much as measuring how well it went. 

Click the button below for more information on assessments.

Click below to see an evaluation of the assessments used at my current school.

Assessment Evaluation

Use Standards to Guide Learning and Performance by Tyler Wood

Standards are the end-goal. This is not a dirty word, but a word that you give the meaning to as an educator. What do you want the students to know and be able to do by the end of the course? That is where the standards come in, they are able to keep every class on track for success and be prepared for the next year. "Some educators feel that standards-based education and assessment require teaching to the test and removing all creativity from teaching. This is not the case at all; instead, standards should be used as guideposts to measure student progress. Standards can and should be personalized to student interests, used to make learning relevant, to accelerate learning, and to help students to be self-directed learners (Goodwin & Hubbell, 2013)" (as cited by CSU-Global Campus, 2014). 

In order to make sure students are on track to reach a certain goal, there needs to be a goal to start with. This is what standards help us do. It helps us aim our classes. 

Click the button below to read more about using standards as a guide to teaching. 

Click below to read about the student performance in Washington State. This is student achievement data analysis for writing in 4th grade. 

Student Performance In Washington State


CSU - Global Campus. (2014). Purpose of assessment [website]. Lecture Notes Online Website: https://csuglobal.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-1556338-dt-content-rid-7860503_2/courses/KEY_OTL541K/courseModules_winter2013c/OTL541K_1/OTL541K_1.html


Make Performance Expectations Clear by Tyler Wood

Learning should not be a maze the students have to figure out. They should be focused on learning the material and skills. Grades should not be a surprise and confusing. As educators, we should be helping the students understand the end goal. They should know where we are going so they will be more inclined to understand the path to get there. 

Click the button below for more information on setting clear goals for students.

Students who have a clear understanding of the path to reach their goals will have more buy in to the learning process. They will care more when they are a part of the process and not just being told what to do all the time. In Finland, they have a more student-centered approach. To learn more about the Finnish model, click the button below. 

One way to help students understand expectations for particular tasks is to make a rubric. Rubrics can help students focus on what their work should show so it is not a vague idea. They can look at the rubric and assess their work directly according to the teachers expectations of the assignment. 

Click below to see the rubric I made for a specific standard in order to help students understand the performance expectations. This also includes my reasoning and reflections for making the rubric. 

Performance Rubric


Template of Rubric, Error Analysis, and Student Progress Tracker

Students Setting Personal Learning Goals by Tyler Wood

"Ronald Taylor (1964) compared the goals of underachievers and achievers. He found that underachievers either had no particular goals, or if they did, aimed impossibly high. Achievers, by comparison, set realistic, attainable goals that were related to their school work " (as cited in Siegle, 2000, para. 3). We can work really hard getting lost, or it can be smooth sailing to our destination, the difference is having a map. We need to have an end goal to organize our efforts. However, if the teacher sets the goals, that means the teacher is expecting that all the students have the same interests. Any amount of experience in a classroom will prove that idea wrong. Having the students set their own goals can personalize the relevance and offer the students autonomy. "Research has shown that motivation is related to whether or not students have opportunities to be autonomous and to make important academic choices" (McCombs, 2014, para. 1). This also has the added benefit of not only creating more motivation in the students, but creating a skill that they can use later in life. Being able to self-assess is beneficial for their learning and life beyond the classroom. Allowing the opportunities for autonomy has the built in assumtion that the student will most likely choose something they are more interested in. Even if given a few choices and they are not keen on any, they are allowed to pick one they prefer, given them the motivation of not having to write one of the other choices they liked less. 

A major skill the students will need as well to keep it simple and make their goals reasonable. Students should "set small, achievable goals that can be accomplished quickly" (Siegle, 2000, para. 2) so they can build confidence by getting those small wins. This is the video game effect. Instant feedback and points keep the player coming back for more. If players had to wait to beat the game to achieve anything, games would probably have a much less enticing allure for players. Students will also need to be able to self-assess in a meaningful way and in allignment with the standards and/or class objectives laid out by the teacher. "As students learn to monitor their progress, they become more motivated by their successes and begin to acquire a sense of ownership and responsibility for the role they play in these successes" (McCombs, 2014, para. 13).

Eventually, that ownership leads to freedom to do without guidance. Teachers should also "help students deal with inevitable disappointment that comes when they don’t perform as well as they hoped they would. For example, students can be taught strategies for using mistakes as learning opportunities and for controlling the negative emotions that can interfere with learning" (McCombs, 2014, para. 16). Biting off small pieces is key to being successfull and building confidence, but what about the failures that may occur? Students need to learn the skill of managing disappointment as much as managing their time or effort. Life is not life without some disappointment. Why ignore that lesson in school? As Winston Churchill said, "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." Students should know that making mistakes is normal and part of the process, then they will be more likely to get up and try again. This is especially pertinent in Korea where high-stakes testing and parents with higher expectations has created students who refuse to make a mistake. One of the biggest problems I have with writing class is that student will stop writing if they don't know how to spell a word and not move until they spell that word correctly. No matter how often I say that it's better to keep writing and fix it later, or even leave it and get your ideas out, they refuse to budge until I come help them. 

Click below to see my student assessment worksheet with error analysis, student tracking record and my reflection. 

Student Progress and Assessment Worksheet



McCombs, B. (2014). Developing responsible and and autonomous learners: A key to motivating students. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/education/k12/learners.aspx

Siegle, D. (2000). Help students set goals. Department of Educational Psychology. University of Connecticut. Retrieved from http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/selfefficacy/section8.html

Use Feedback to Encourage Effort by Tyler Wood

Feedback and revision are the keys to learning as a student or a life-long learner. Feedback comes in many shapes and sizes and in the classroom they tend to come from three sources - the teacher, the student, or the student's peers. To organize a class around giving students enough time to analyze their feedback and process it can be seen as saying we should organize our class around learning. Seems obvious, but teachers don't always spend time on it. 

In my class, since I teach ESL in Korea, I find that they really respond to peer-assessment, especially the lower-level students, because they can always explain something in their native language if they are running into a dead-end. I use this a lot, though I could use it more often. I have already begun to "make data part of an ongoing cycle of instructional improvement" (Hamilton, L., Halverson, R., Jackson, S., Mandinach, E., Supovitz, J., & Wayman, J., 2009).

When having students work on a new concept I will offer them an example of how to do it well, or offer a rubric for expectations at the beginning. Then they will work on the assignment. I stop them with enough time to exchange papers with a fellow student and look over the work. Then they will write and/or tell their classmate what they believed worked well and what could be improved based on the rubric. This has been a challenge at first, but I know once they get used to this routine, not only will they be able to offer and receive feedback more effectively, but they will be writing before the feedback with the future feedback in mind and be more aware of the expectations in the rubric or examples offered. Using a student progress tracking sheet will be added to keep them mindful of where they came from in their learning and where they are going. 

Another way to organize around analyzing feedback and processing it is to revisit their written feedback. "Some researchers [Kluger & DeNisi, 1996;Shute, 2008] argue that written comments are preferable to verbal communications as students can revisit them"(as cited by Brown, 2012). I correct and offer constructive feedback on their weekly journal writing assignment. Every week when they are done writing their journals I am getting them in the habit of reading my comments and corrections and using those comments and corrections to self-assess their current writing. Many student make the same mistakes in spelling and grammar, unless they break that cycle. I try and give them a chance to break that cycle every week with this routine. 

Ultimately, there should be no problem organizing class time for this because this is part of what should be in classtime - learning. We shouldn't let drudging though content out-weigh the learning process for the students.

Click below to see the analysis of my implementation of the student progress worksheet.




Brown, G. (2012). Teacher beliefs about feedback within an assessment for learning environment: endorsement of improved learning over student well-being. Teaching and Teacher Education, doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2012.05.003.

Hamilton, L., Halverson, R., Jackson, S., Mandinach, E., Supovitz, J., & Wayman, J. (2009). Using student achievement data to support instructional decision making (NCEE 2009-4067).  Retrieved from National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education website: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides/

Checking for Understanding by Tyler Wood

I teach fourth graders ESL, so my situation calls for frequent checks naturally to make sure the students are understanding what I am saying since it’s a second language for them. My top five methods for frequently checking for understanding are pretty simple and straight forward. 

1. Observation - “By methodically watching and recording student performance with a focused observation form, you can learn a lot about students’ levels of understanding in just a few moments” (Finley, 2014). I don’t use an observation form, but I do take notes on my schedule everyday as I see the students working, especially in groups. I am always moving around the classroom checking their work as I pass. When I find a mistake I want to address (I usually let spelling and minor grammar mistakes go when the focus is not spelling or grammar so they can have uninterrupted writing time) I will use my second method of checking for understanding.

2. Private talks - If and when I see something that should be addressed to guide learning I will stop and talk to the student about their work and help them address the concern. This allows for a student that may have been too shy to speak or a student who doesn’t even know they are having trouble get some guidance without having to ask. It also keeps the rest of the class in the dark because I’m not addressing it openly so they don’t have to feel embarrassed. 

3. Ask - The most direct and simple method I use is to just ask. I try and make my classroom as comfortable as possible for the students to make sure they feel comfortable asking questions without feeling like they will be made fun of or get rejected or turned down by me if they are ‘wrong’. “According to the American Institute of Nondestructive Testing, the simplest tool to encourage student self-assessment is evaluative prompts: How much time and effort did you put into this? What do you think your strengths and weaknesses were in this assignment” (Finley, 2014)? I also like to ask students when they are about to turn in work if they are happy with their work. If someone were to see this would you feel comfortable with that? I have many students really think about it and sit down to double check their work and make sure they did their best on it. I don’t do this to make them feel like they need to do more, but to make them take some responsibility for their effort. I want them to be able to say to themselves, this is my best work and I’m happy to turn it in. 

4. Homework and assignments - I always look over the homework and assignments to see how well the students are showing they understand the content and/or skills presented in class. I have had homework a few times come back and I was surprised because I thought the kids understood because of their responses in class only to find their homework was lacking. This helps me differentiate the class and re-teach lessons or concepts to make sure the students understand. I will continue to re-teach until they can show me evidence that they understand.

5. Exit slips - “Exit slips allow the teacher to collect students’ responses and plan accordingly for the next class session, differentiating for the abilities and understanding of different students. This strategy is extremely useful in the classroom because it takes just a few minutes to do, and gives teachers an informal measure of the students’ understanding of a new lesson or concept” (Simon & Striegel, n.d.). I have just recently started using this method of checking for understanding and it has worked well so far. 

When all of the students do not understand it seems pretty obvious that the technique I used just was not effective, so I re-teach the lesson in a different way. If I get good feedback on what exactly they are having trouble with, then I can focus on something they are missing to get the ball rolling. Otherwise, I will redesign the lesson and add much more frequent checks for understanding that involves less active responses from the students. I will be more proactive with my checking to make sure they are understanding the second time. 

When most of the students do not understand I would do almost the same thing as if all the students did not understand, except I would take advantage of the few students who did understand and have them lead small groups as well. That way I can move from group to group and do mini-lessons for more focused learning and the other groups won’t be sitting there confused until I show up to help them. 

When a few of the students do not understand I will also use small groups, but this time in the reverse way as before. This time I will separate the students having trouble into separate groups in order to get help from their teammates, and I will not re-teach the whole lesson. I would design a lesson where the product would entail using the skills or concepts and have the group help the students that don’t understand with the ideas in the process. I would also be moving from group to group focusing on those students with mini-lessons to help them keep pace with the other students in the group.

When only one student does not understand I would offer them special tutoring time to focus my attention on them catching up. It could be while the rest of class is working on something else, or after class during my free classes. This way I will not have to stop the class when everyone else is understanding, but I’m not leaving the child to sink farther into trouble as they pile on more content or skills when they have not mastered the last one yet. 

Click below for an analysis of the student data collected in class. 

Student Performance Data Analysis


Finley, T. (2014, July). Dipsticks: efficient ways to check for understanding. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/dipsticks-to-check-for-understanding-todd-finley

Simon, C.A. & Streigel, P. (n.d.). Strategy guide: exit slips. Read Write Think. NCTE. Retreived from http://www.readwritethink.org/professional-development/strategy-guides/exit-slips-30760.html?main-tab=1#main-tabs

Communicating Performance Progress by Tyler Wood

Getting parents involved is beneficial to the child and classroom. I grew up with my parents, and my friends' parents, being involved in our school and it made the school much more like a family - a community. The research seems to agree that it is beneficial as well. 

I like the idea of student-lead conferences because of the student involvement and "Student Accountability" (Kinney, n.d.). My only concern is that is still very much tied to the traditional idea that conferencing is a special event that only happens twice a year. I prefer the idea that "The same parents who might browse a school website a few times a year are apt to be on Facebook every day" (Edutopia, n.d.). The conferencing can be a part of the communication strategy, but I would not depend on it as the main avenue for communicating with parents. I would like to set up a interface that can be used, like Google Docs or something similar, that can be used to submit homework, upload homework/classwork, and correct work that is password protected but the parents have access too. This would encourage the same level of motivation for the same reason as student-lead conferencing because the parents will be asking about their work and seeing the results of their efforts. This also aligns with consistant and constructive formative assessment feedback that can be actionable (Wiggins, 2012). The student has corrections they can use to fix or rewrite the work for a second submission. I want to encourage the idea that the parents are involved, not just in knowing how their child is performing, but helping them better their performance. Also, making conferencing a special event sends the message that communicating is a special event, which it should not be.

Communicating more often means less time preparing for communicating. The steps for preparing for the conference seemed like it would take a bit of time in class getting the students ready. If that time isn't incorporated into the class goals and the larger picture, it could be time spent not working toward the course goals. It could be beneficial by getting the students involved in their own assessment, but I worry that, at least in Korea, it would morph into a show, as is the case with Open Classes currently practiced here commonly. The show we put on for the parents here tends to distract us from actual learning to make it appear that their kids are doing well and we have a good portfolio to show them. This really depends on the ability to sell the idea to parents. Perhaps in America, parents are more apt to accept the reality of the child's progress, but from my experience in education in Korea, that is still too rare to be practical here. 

Just one more note, I also want to send the message that each of the parents is important and a part of the community and having the child take care of the majority of the conference makes it seem like it's less personal with the teachers. The conferencing with students in ESL classes would be beneficial with language barriers, but if that does not exist, I can imagine parents would still want their time with the teacher in private to discuss behavior and/or advice on what to encourage their kids to do at home and so on. This problem would be better served with regular updates on social media, parent access to graded work, and direct communication with teachers either with email, blog, or staggered meetings to make time for the parents. 


For more ideas click the button below.


Edutopia. (n.d.). Home to school connections guide. Retrieved from http://www.fcps.edu/cco/prc/resources/documents/edutopiahometoschoolguide.pdf

Kinney, P. (2013) Fostering student accountability though student-led conferences. Retrieved from https://www.dropbox.com/s/2ay3d5zjbs4l1cc/NCMSA%20SLC.pdf 

Wiggins, G. (2012). Seven keys to effective feedback. Educational Leadership. ASCD. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept12/vol70/num01/Seven-Keys-to-Effective-Feedback.aspx

Progress Monitoring by Tyler Wood

Initially, I had a negative reaction to Jeff Edmundson's discussion of tracking student data because it strikes me as over the line on the privacy front, something we really need to pay attention to (Edmundson, 2010). After thinking about how best to collaborate with other teachers about student needs I came back to the idea of information data tracking. I now feel like I can support the idea with a few caveats, which I will address at the end. 

I think having a professional learning community (PLC) in the school is pretty common sense. There should be inquiry into "best practices in teaching and best practices in learning" (DuFour, 2006). We should always be trying to better our perfomance with the focus on transferring knowledge, not just on conveying it in class. Learning is the responsibility of a teacher, not just teaching - ironically. In order to have effective PLC collaboration, it would be helpful to gather data to share and confer over in groups. This is where I came around on the data collecting of students. It can be like a medical chart (with similar protections - see caveats later). One thing that can help is to have a special teacher that observes classes and can help collect data or advise teachers on how to collect data and what kinds of data will be effective to collect. "A particular feature of the Finnish system is the “special teacher.” This is a specially trained teacher assigned to each school whose role is to work with class teachers to identify students needing extra help, and then work individually or in small groups with these students to provide the support they need to keep up with their classmates" (OECD, 2013). This will, of course, change the structure of teachers, but perhaps instead of having one person always do it, it can be a shared responsibility for teachers on a rotating basis. This can help, in the same way we implement this with students, form better autonomy and motivation for teachers as they are being more involved with the entire school outside their own doors. 

The concerns I have, my caveats for support of data collecting, are that we need to protect the privacy of the students, parents, and teachers in all of this. If we can control who has access to the data and allow the parents or legal guadians to approve of the use of the data, then I would be more comfortable with the idea. We already collect data on the students, but to broaden the information, we might need certain special permissions. For example, to add socio-economic standing or certain family background information. The information gathered in the class is generally acceptable, but anything that involves getting information from outside the school would be where I would have my reservations. But, if the privacy is protected and approval was needed by parents or guardians for the use of the data, then I would support this idea. Having a chart of the child's information would help show trends of behavior or academics more effectively and help teachers assess each child in the PLC collaboration. This would help the children. "Working together to build shared knowledge on the best way to achieve goals and meet the needs of clients is exactly what professionals in any field are expected to do, whether it is curing the patient, winning the lawsuit, or helping all students learn. Members of a professional learning community are expected to work and learn together" (DuFour, 2006). Everywhere we go we are seeing more data collection on how employees and employers are performing, so why not the education industry? I understand it goes against the tradition of having a teacher run their 'domain' inside their classroom, but that method has been failing us in the past few decades. Perhaps it is time to stop the Sisyphean expectations of teachers being lone heroes and start working more collaboratively and with more focus on generating a better overall environment for the students to learn in. This can be achieved with a more open and collaborative school and/or district. I would support the PLC idea, or something similar, for creating that environment.



DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., & Many, T. (2006). Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work™, pp. 2–4. Retrieved from http://www.allthingsplc.info/about/aboutPLC.php


Edmundson, J. (2010, November). TEDx Talks - Jeff Edmundson - The key to educational improvement: data and how we use it. [Wed Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLqc_9VxfCE


OECD. (2013). Finland. Strong performers and successful reformers in education. Pearson Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.pearsonfoundation.org/oecd/finland.html

Reflection by Tyler Wood

Assessments seem like something that is a burden for teachers. Learning is happening in the students' heads where it is invisible. How can we measure that? It may seem like we are talking about children like machines when we speak of testing and measuring them, but this is not the case. Measuring is how we can alter and fix something that is not working. Assessing is how we can find what works and what does not. Evaluation is how we create new and improved ways of doing things. This is also what is happening in the minds of these students' heads invisibly. They are evaluating themselves already, but they do not always know how to do it. Children are assessing themselves with other children all the time. We need to guide their evaluations of themselves like we guide their learning in other aspects. 

What I am learning is that assessments that receive the most complaints are usually not being intentional enough, they are not aligned with the standards or objectives and that is the tension. Not that they are assessing, but they are assessing the wrong thing. This is why I prefer formative assessments completely. We are attempting to shape young minds, not discourage them from moving on. Guidance looks like formative assessment, something to help them grow and learn. Summative assessment is more of a judgement on their efforts or intelligence, depending on the test. Judgement can be discouraging. Olympic athletes may get judgement scores in the Olympics, but they do not achieve their skills because of those scores, they do that with the guidance of their coaches. Coaching is the key here. If we left the athletes to get judged without any other assessment do you really believe they would be motivated to continue or even know where to start to improve if they were still motivated? I got a 7 from the Russian judge, what does that mean? How do I improve that score? 

Being intentional means to be offering feedback, based on assessments, that help a student meet their objectives. They are specific, actionable, and timely (Wiggins, 2012). Assessment allows us to see how the students are improving as well as how our classes are going for us. Data does not turn the student into an automaton, but helps us see trends so we can better help the student achieve. Data unlocks that brain so that learning is no longer so invisible and we can see how that student is learning so we can help them grow.  Assessment should not be used to punish, but to inform and create better opportunities to learn. "Results from almost any assessment can be of great benefit to students, provided they are used to make instructional adjustments" (Dwyer, n.d.). Click below for ideas and research supporting using data to inform instruction.

My class has already been changing because of the information I have been gathering for this project. I intend to continue to use best practices for assessing my students so I can offer the best possible learning environment. I will focus on formative assessments, only using mandated summative assessments. I will use a mix of self-assessment, peer-assessment, and teacher assessment that will be aligned with the course objectives and intended student outcomes. The students will also be informed of these objectives and outcomes so they can be more motivated to participate in their own learning (Choi, 2013). 


Choi, J. (2013, July). The motivation trifecta: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Delivering Happiness. Retrieved from http://deliveringhappiness.com/the-motivation-trifecta-autonomy-mastery-and-purpose/

Dwyer, C. (n.d.) Using classroom data to give systematic feedback to students to improve learning. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/education/k12/classroom-data.aspx

Wiggins, G. (2012). Seven keys to effective feedback. Educational Leadership. ASCD. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept12/vol70/num01/Seven-Keys-to-Effective-Feedback.aspx