This is part of a series of blog posts based on HMH’s recent report titled The Connected Learning Era: Mitigating the COVID-19 Learning Loss.
With the new school year kicking off, we are seeing everything from totally in-person to totally remote instruction, and every hybrid approach in between. Regardless of whether remote instruction at your school is part of the current plan or just a backup plan, educators, students, and families need to be prepared for at least some remote instruction and, by association, assessment in this kind of setting.
The previous blog post in this series discussed the why of delivering remote assessments, but it’s equally important to understand how to make remote assessment feasible. No matter what the learning environment is come this fall—in-person, remote, or a combination—a comprehensive portfolio of assessments is essential for students to demonstrate their understanding and to provide teachers with valuable feedback.
Yet the dynamics of an assessment system will need to adapt when students are participating in a virtual classroom. More specifically:
- Formative assessments that require in-person interaction need to be modified.
- Expectations about standardized testing conditions—for instance, having a quiet environment and ensuring outside help isn’t provided—may need to be be relaxed to avoid placing a greater burden on families. In turn, those interpreting assessment results need to keep in mind that standardized conditions may not be completely achievable.
- Strategies for providing feedback to students based on their assessment performance must be adapted to a remote and sometimes asynchronous setting.
- Fairness for students with disabilities (such as those with IEPs and 504 plans) will need to be ensured.
In response to these challenges, we offer some suggestions for implementing the various forms of assessment to support a connected learning system. Whether assessment is happening online or with traditional paper and pencil, with or without proctoring, separate from teaching or during teaching, the following modifications can be made to meet educator and student needs.
Taking Formative Assessment Online
What good is assessing a student if there is nothing that can be done with the information? Assessments are most useful when they provide actionable data about a student’s knowledge or skills by clearly connecting with the curriculum. Because students are constantly learning and growing, formative assessments should be administered frequently to provide up-to-date information on student progress. With the cancellation of end-of-year summative assessments this past year and the ongoing physical separation this year, formative assessments will play a key role in helping teachers determine where students are this fall and what they need in terms of instruction.
Although not a replacement for face-to-face interaction, teachers can leverage technology through video chats and meetups to deliver real-time instruction and robust formative assessment. This interaction allows the teacher to quickly gauge students’ level of understanding during instruction.
The remote process follows the same fundamental principles of face-to-face formative assessment practices:
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