Great teachers know that assessing student learning is critical for both understanding how students are progressing and in planning for future instruction. The DPAS-II framework articulates the two steps in using assessments in the classroom: designing assessments (Criterion 1e) and implementing assessments (Criterion 3e).
There are two types of assessments: summative and formative. Summative assessments help teachers understand whether or not a student learned the content. Summative assessments are used at the end of instruction. Formative assessments provide an in-the-moment picture of student learning. Formative assessments can be as simple as a thumbs up/thumbs down or a single question meant to elicit understanding. Great teachers use formative assessments in every lesson and use these results to drive instructional decisions.
Criteria 1e and 3e in the DPAS-II framework describe elements and attributes of great formative assessment. This doesn’t mean that summative assessment isn’t important in instruction; indeed, summative assessments are what drive the Student Improvement Component/Component 5 in the DPAS-II evaluation system. But when observing day-to-day instruction and providing feedback to teachers, the DPAS-II framework serves as a resource for observers to give targeted feedback on teachers’ use of assessments in instruction.
Criterion 1e describes the characteristics of well-designed assessments as a part of the lesson planning and preparation process (read more about Component 1 in the October and November newsletters). The elements of Criterion 1e are:
- Congruence with instructional outcome: all of the lesson outcomes should have a method for assessment, and the assessment types should match learning expectations for the class
- Criteria and standards: there must be clear criteria to guide the grading of the assessment
- Design of formative assessments: the lesson plan includes the use of formative assessments to inform minute-by-minute decision-making by the teacher
- Use for planning: the assessments results must also be incorporated into future planning of lessons and units
Designing the assessment is just the first step. Great teachers then use assessments as a part of their day-to-day instruction. Criterion 3e describes specifically that “assessment is regularly used during instruction through monitoring of progress of learning by teacher and/or students through high quality feedback to students.” The elements of Criterion 3e are:
- Assessment criteria: students know and understand the criteria by which their work will be evaluated
- Monitoring of student learning: the teacher actively monitors the learning of students throughout the lesson
- Feedback to students: the teacher also provides timely and high quality feedback to students so that students understand their progress
- Student self-assessment and monitoring of progress: students are actively involved in self-assessment and in monitoring their own progress.
Taken together, Criterion 1e and 3e provide a holistic picture of how great teachers design and use formative assessments to monitor and drive student learning. And these elements are critically important to student success. John Hattie developed the
to understand how 138 different influences were related to learning outcomes. Hattie's research targets an effective size of 0.40 as the "hinge point," or the average of all effect sizes. The first ranking of 138 effects notes students use of self-reported grades, or self-assessment, as having the highest effect size of 1.44. Formative evaluation has an effect size of 0.9, and feedback an effect size of 0.73. This research reinforces that assessments and the specific elements of assessments in the DPAS-II framework matter tremendously to student learning.