A small change made a big difference on my assessments

by | 03.19.19

Julie Arsenault is a science teacher in Alberta. Follow her on Twitter @SciGeekJulie.

This year, I changed my assessments by adding a piece of paper at the end, asking, “What else do you know about the topic, that I didn’t ask you about?”
Another teacher suggested this idea online about a year ago – I wish I could remember who it was! – and I thought, “BOOM. I want to do this.”
Answering the question is completely optional, and when students do show more understanding on the sheet than they did on their assessment, I’ll point it out to them. Sometimes I’ll write, “The learning wasn’t shown in your assessment, but I can see you do know this from what you wrote at the end.”
Afterward, I’ll follow up with them about how to recognize and answer test questions asked in different ways. Clearly, in cases like this, they understand the material but aren’t able to formulate an answer in response to the way I posed the question. I’ll point out to them that while it’s great that they’ve shown me their learning, they won’t always have a chance to answer assessment questions in an open-ended way, and I want them to succeed when they encounter assessment-style questions in the future.
I love what this change has done. This strategy has made my assessments more inclusive. It helps me communicate to my students: When I assess your understanding, I’m looking for what you DO know.

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