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Reflecting on the Power of Real-Time Assessment

DreamBox partners with Matt Foster, Math Coordinator of Waukegan Public Schools to host a webinar on EdWeb

It’s been almost a year since I left the classroom for the opportunity to work as a Curriculum Designer for DreamBox Learning. While I sincerely miss the students and the comradery with my peers, but in place of that I now have the unique opportunity to work and partner with educators from districts across the country. Recently, I was offered the chance to team up with Matt Foster, the Math Coordinator for Waukegan Public Schools, to co-host a webinar on EdWeb. We presented on the topic of “Harnessing the Power of Real-Time Assessment”.

All teachers know that formative assessment is an important piece to collecting data about student learning. The caveat is that teachers often have so much on their plates, that the importance is placed on the “what” and the “how” for assessment, and the “why” can become secondary. Co-hosting this webinar and hearing from Matt about the great assessment strategies and use of meaningful data happening in Waukegan was inspiring. It reminded me that the reason for real-time assessment isn’t just about collecting data, but truly about collecting the most meaningful and actionable data. After the webinar, I took some time to reflect on what we had discussed and what I had re-learned from Matt. Here are some of my main take-aways:

  1. Data about student learning should be used to drive teaching
    • The goal is to personalize learning to meet the needs of individual learners
    • When students learning is personalized, this will result in student achievement
    • Student achievement is measured by their mastery of standards
  2. All data is NOT created equally
    • Data from end-of-unit and end-of-year assessments gives us a summary of what students know and don’t know about a topic after a variable amount of time from when they were taught that topic
    • Data from real-time assessments tell us about what the students’ misconceptions are about something in the moment of being taught that topic
  3. Learning dams happen when a student’s misconception blocks them from being able to develop further understanding of a certain topic
    • This can have long-term impacts on student learning
    • Learning dams, when left unblocked, result in low achievement on summative assessments
  4. How and when we choose to use the data to inform our teaching matters
    • The longer a student has a misconception about something that they think is a correct understanding, the harder it is going to be to fix it
    • When a misconception about something forms in a students’ mind, the sooner it is addressed the more likely it is that the misconception will be resolved
  5. Real-time assessment provides actionable data to drive instruction and timely intervention
    • Real-time assessment allows the teacher to identify misconceptions as they are being formed
    • When a teacher is able to identify student misconceptions in the moment, they are able to intervene and unblock learning dams

In summary, I was reminded how meaningful and actionable real-time assessment data is in comparison to summative assessments. Educators that recognize the importance of this type of assessment and data have the opportunity to unlock the learning potential of every child.

You can watch the webinar here!

Elizabeth Venn
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