Monday, December 1, 2014

Formative and Summative Assessment

Formative and Summative Assessments! You know you hear these words over and over again. I have to admit that I didn't totally understand them until I went back to school to get my Master's Degree. Then I had no choice but to understand them! So here is an easy definition. Formative assessment is like taking a quick look at how well a child understands a skill, standard, and or objective. Formative assessments allow you to change course during the time of instruction. Formative assessments guide your current instruction.

Summative assessments are a gauge of how well a student has mastered skills, standards, and/or objectives. Summative assessments are used to see how much a child has grown, to determine if instruction and or programs worked, and are given after instruction has taken place. It is more like a final exam. It may drive future instruction. Summative assessments are end-of-the chapter tests, unit tests, and standardized tests, to name a few.

There are many ways to do a quick check. It may be a graphic organizer or a check-in with the teacher after a few problems are answered/solved. Quick checks or formative assessments let you know what is going on with the student. Another great way to see if kids get it is an exit slip. Exit slips can be used as a final review and before the students leave your room. They can also be done as an entrance slip, checking for understanding before the lesson even begins. Exit slips are a great way to look at your students as a class as well. Exit slips can be as easy as saying here is a pile for kids who got it, and here is a pile of kids who need extra help. You can also use an exit slip board. This way your kids can pin their slip on the board, and you can see how your class looks as a whole. Exit slips have become like an addiction for me! I created this board in my classroom. I hot glued small clothes pins to the number area, and my students just clip their exit slip in place.
Now I can't stop! Everything has become an exit slip. I have created exit slips for all of the reading standards in second grade. They are quick and focused. The kids work so much harder on the exit slip, because the paper is shorter and more focused.  If students need more space, they can flip the slip over or add a Sticky note to the slip. I can do a quick sweep to determine if the class understands the concept, adjust my instruction, form a small group, or provide a summative assessment and move on. HINT: They are also great for walk-throughs and observations!

The best part of an exit slip is it is easier to grade. It has saved me hours of time and given me real feedback on how well my students understand the concept, skill, and or standard. 
How do you assess your students? I know we all have PLENTY of summative assessments, but how do you take a quick peek to see how your kids are coming along? I would love to hear from you!

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