Assessment Philosophy

Assessment Philosophy

I believe that it is important to assess learners at the beginning to have a clear idea of what they know and what they want to know. Chapman asserts that “when teaching with high achievement as a goal, one important aspect of assessing learners is finding out what the students already know. . . Planning for individual and group needs is easier when the teacher investigates and discovers what a student knows, how the student feels about the topic, and what he or she is interested in learning during the unit of study” (2009, p. 56). Documenting what students know, and what to know can be organized into visually appealing KWL+ graphic organizers.

I believe that involving learners daily in classroom assessment builds a solid foundation for learning (Davies, 2011 p. 63).  Davies (2011) asserts that “by engaging students in the process of linking prior knowledge, describing success, setting criteria, self-assessing, giving feedback, setting goals, collecting and presenting evidence of their own learning, educators are teaching students how to learn as well as teaching them what they need to know and be able to do” (p. 71).  Furthermore, “when students are involved in their own assessment, they are required to think about their learning and articulate their understanding – which helps them learn” (as quoted in Davies, pg. 12). Involving students in classroom assessment daily is an effective way of linking daily classroom practices with assessment. Having students co-construct assessment criteria and posting this criteria in the classroom for them to self-reference is a form of descriptive feedback they can use to compare their work to.

I believe that students need to understand where learning is headed in order to become self-directed learners.  “Researchers reporting brain-based research (Langer 1997; Pinker 1997; Pert 1999; and Restak 2003) say that when we know what we’re going to be doing, we mentally prepare ourselves and activate more of our brain by doing so. Once students know what they are supposed to be learning, they can self-monitor, make adjustments, and learn more (Davies, 2011 p. 26). Furthermore, “when teachers and students know where they are going, they are more likely to achieve success” (Davies 2011, p. 25).  I believe that by summarising and displaying learning goals in “I can statements” students can understand is a best practice for ensuring students know where they are headed (Nikiforuk Jan 16, slide 7). This is the first step in teaching them how to learn and is one of the most effective ways to link daily classroom practices with assessment.

I believe that triangulation is important for producing more reliable and valid assessments. Davies (2011) asserts that “when evidence is collected from three different sources over time, trends and patterns become apparent, and the reliability and validity of our classroom assessment is increased” (pg. 46). The process of triangulating evidence is a best practice and it involves teachers collecting different types of evidence from different sources including conversations, observations and products (Davies 2011, p.52). Furthermore, as teachers we ensure reliability and validity of evidence by having proof of learning from multiple sources collected over time (Davies 2011, 50).  It is important to use a variety of qualitative and quantitative assessments (Nikiforuk Jan 16, slide 9). Conferencing with students (conversations), anecdotal records (observations) and a visual art piece (product) are examples of the three types of sources of evidence that can be collected in the classroom to ensure validity and reliability.

I believe that using authentic assessments tasks and matching the learning of these tasks to the assessment are important because they show what the person knows and is able to do more authentically (Nikiforuk Jan 16, slide 12).

“An authentic assessment is a form of assessment whereby students perform a real-word task to show depth of understanding of concepts and application of skills” (Chapman 2009, p. 55). Authentic assessments tasks are important in the engagement and motivation of students, giving them a purpose for creating (Chapman 2009, p.74). They often require higher order thinking skills beyond recall by challenging students to create and solve problems and apply what they know ( The assessment of authentic assessment tasks is often done with rubrics that are tied to the authentic assessments. It is important for clear criteria and goals to be co-constructed with students (Nikiforuk Jan 16, slide 12). The authentic assessment shows “what the person knows and is able to do”. For example, having students create an anti-bullying commercial for health class is an example of an authentic assessment task as it is related to the real-world. A rubric would be created using student generated criteria. This would be an example of a summative assessment (of learning). Using authentic assessments and authentic assessment tasks is a best practice. “Summative assessment occurs at the end of a unit of study in order to measure the amount of information the students have learned. Summative assessments reflect students’ learning and the teacher’s ability to communicate information effectively (Nikiforuk Class 1, Slide 14).”

I believe that providing samples and exemplars helps students understand what they are expected to know and do in the classroom.

Students can hit any target that they know about and that stands still for them (Rick Stiggens).

Davies (2011) asserts that “using samples to represent the levels of quality involved in meeting standards can serve not only to help students understand the expectations but also to improve the professional judgments of teachers. Collections of student samples . . . help students develop a sense of what is important. When students analyze samples, they begin to understand what student work looks like at different points on its way to the standards. . .. They also begin to internalize the criteria that will be used to assess their work. When students understand what is important they will have an opportunity to assess their own efforts in regard to the criteria, and give themselves, specific, descriptive feedback about their own learning as they progress. Samples are important if quality classroom assessment is going to be effective. Samples or exemplars can be used by teachers when they (best practices):

•      Develop criteria with students

•      Assess and give descriptive feedback about student work

•      Show ways to represent their learning (give evidence)

•      Help others understand more about student learning

•      Inform professional judgement (p. 34-35)”

Exemplars are used to show students the level of quality involved in meeting the learning outcomes (Davies, 33 – 36).  Teachers can also use samples to show students the different ways that they can represent their learning. Being able to select different ways to show what they have learned helps to remove barriers to a student’s success (Davies 2011, p. 36).  An effective way to link daily classroom practices with assessment is by posting samples and criteria on Seesaw for students and parents. Students can use the samples and criteria to give themselves descriptive feedback (Davies 2011, 36).

I believe it is important to have students communicate about their learning as it teaches them to self-assess and reflect.

According to Davies (2011):

When students communicate with others about their learning, they come to understand what they have learned, what they need to learn, and what kind of support may be available to them. They receive feedback and recognition from themselves and from others that guide and support their learning. The process of preparing and presenting gives students an opportunity to construct their understanding and to help others make meaning of their learning. This teaches them to self-monitor, – an essential skill for self-directed, independent, lifelong learners” (p. 86).

“Research says when students are involved in their own learning, mistakes become feedback to adjust what they are doing” (Nikiforuk class 1, slide 20).

One best practice is having students communicate about their learning through student led parent/teacher conferences. They become partners with teachers in communicating about their own learning successes by leading their conference (Stiggins 2007).  Moreover, an effective way to link daily classroom practice with assessment is through student created newsletters. These can be published for parents to see and can contain content that reflects student learning.

I believe in providing students with descriptive feedback as it helps them to adjust what they are doing to become more successful and to learn from their mistakes (Davies 2011, p 16).

Best Practices:

According to Davies (2011):

Descriptive feedback gives the learner information about their learning that helps them self-reference and plan their next steps. This type of feedback:

  • Comes during, as well as after, the learning
  • Is easily understood and relates directly to the learning
  • Is specific, so performance can improve
  • Involves choice on the part of the learner as to the type of feedback and how to receive it
  • Is part of an ongoing conversation about learning
  • Is in comparison to models, exemplars, samples, or descriptions
  • Is about the performance or work – not the person (Davies 2011, p. 16-17).

Unless specific, descriptive feedback is provided, students may not have enough information to understand what they need to do in order to improve.  “The more specific, descriptive feedback students received while they are learning, the more learning is possible” (Davies 2011, p. 59).

Sitting alongside the learner to help him or her know strengths and opportunities for growth by (Nikiforuk class 1, slide 10) providing feedback is an effective way to link daily classroom practices to assessment.

An effective way of linking daily classroom practices with assessment would be to increase the feedback possibilities for students by providing students with models, posted samples or exemplars; analyze their key attributes with students to show what success looks like; and ask students to use samples to show what the journey to quality looks like (Davies 2011).  Students can also give themselves descriptive feedback when they compare their work to models, posted samples, or detailed criteria (Davies 2011).

I believe that using ongoing formative assessment (assessment for learning) to guide and inform instruction has the potential to enhance student learning.

Assessment for Learning is “a process that the ARG defined as seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to decide where the learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there” (Harlen, 9).

Stiggins (2007) asserts that “assessment for learning turns day-to-day assessment into a teaching and learning process that enhances (instead of merely monitoring) student learning” (Stiggins 2007).  When we use assessment for learning, assessment becomes far more than merely a one-time event stuck onto the end of an instructional unit. It becomes a series of interlaced experiences that enhance the learning process by keeping students confident and focused on their progress, even in the face of occasional setbacks (Stiggens 2007).

Extensive research conducted around the world shows that by consistently applying the principles of assessment for learning, we can produce impressive gains in student achievement, especially for struggling learners (Black & William, 1998).

An effective way to link this to daily classroom practices is by walking around and observing how students are doing. After all, according to Nikiforuk (2018) “formative assessments occur during the learning process, often while students are engaged in other activities” (class 1, slide 13).



ARG (2002) Assessment for Learning: 10 Principles,

Black, P., & William, D. (1998). Assessment and classroom learning. Educational Assessment: Principles, Policy, and Practice, 5(1), 7-74.

Chapman, Carolyn, and Rita M King. Differentiated Instructional Strategies for Writing in the Content Areas. Thousand Oaks, Calif. : Corwin ; London : SAGE, 2009.

Davies, Anne. Making Classroom Assessment Work. Courtenay, B.C. : Connections Pub., 2007.

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. Retrieved from

Harlen, W. 2006. The role of teachers in the assessment of learning, Pamphlet produced by Assessment Systems for the Future project (ASF) Assessment Reform Group, UK.

Stiggins, R. (2007). Assessment Through the Student’s Eyes. Educational Leadership, 64(8), 22-26.


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