“Today, kids spend too much time on the scale and not enough time at the trough.” This analogy of students as farm animals isn’t a beautiful one, but it gets the point across. In the past decade, students have spent a great deal of class time taking assessments (being weighed), which reduces the time available for instruction and learning (eating at the trough). The reasons for this development vary, but the testing requirements of No Child Left Behind are a major reason behind it.
Many of us sometimes feel that our students are “over-assessed,” so it’s easy to have a negative attitude toward testing. But assessments are an essential part of teaching when they are used effectively. The descriptions below include information about what each assessment type is intended to accomplish, as well as some ideas for making it meaningful and effective in the classroom.