Assessment For Learning

Assessment For Learning
Eric Usher

Assessment OF Learning / Assessment FOR Learning


We have reached the end of the first quarter and are thankful that we have been able to continue face-to-face with no coronavirus-related interruptions. Despite the limitations that social distancing and hygiene protocols have imposed on the learning environment, engaging with students in the classroom rather than online provides for richer learning activities, clearer communication, and more accurate assessment of students’ progress and any obstacles they may be facing.


Over the course of the first quarter, most classes have completed one or two assessments, and that assessment data can be viewed in ManageBac in displays like the one shown below. 

The purpose of today’s post is to help us take a deeper look behind the data display in order to better understand the role of assessment in the MYP.


Assessment takes many forms:

  • formal and informal

  • self-assessment or peer-assessment along with assessment by the teacher

  • formative assessment vs. summative assessment*


*Hattie (2012) and Black & William (2001) define formative assessment as any activity used as an assessment of learning progress before or during the learning process itself. In contrast with formative assessment, summative assessment evaluates what students know or have learned at the end of the teaching.


Traditionally we tend to associate the word “assessment” with the assignment of grades, like those we see posted in ManageBac. We can identify where that fits in the categories above: formal / by the teacher / summative. We are thinking of assessment of learning. While assessment of learning is critical to determining how much a student or class has learned before proceeding to the next topic or level, the MYP assessment model is designed to draw our attention to much more than the number. The MYP model places much more emphasis on assessment for learning. 


Assessment for learning envisions assessment primarily as a tool for both the teacher and the student - and by extension the parents - to identify the student’s present degree of understanding along with the necessary steps to reach the next level of understanding. 


Let’s consider an example. A student has just completed a writing assignment for her Language class. Her feedback on Criterion C - Writing is shown below:


The ManageBac graph would show a 5 for Criterion C for this assignment, but that number hardly tells the whole story. We can see that this student needs to concentrate on expanding the vocabulary she uses in her writing and give more attention to selecting relevant information and keeping in mind her audience. On the other hand, the feedback indicates that grammar and organization are relative strengths, with room for further growth in accuracy and coherence.


The value in the assessment model is that it not only gives the student a clear idea of where she is, but also provides clarity about the way forward to the next level.


Students sometimes ask teachers, “Is this assessment summative or formative?” I tend to reply, “Every assessment is both summative: it tells us where you are; and formative: it gives us information about next steps.” As you review early assessment data with your daughters, keep in mind these mutual goals. Remember too that the assessment for learning model anticipates progress throughout the year, so that when we do come to that final summative mark, we are looking at how far each student has progressed - the “latest and most consistent” performance rather than an average. With that in mind, we look forward to three more quarters of learning and growth.


Best regards,


Eric Usher

MYP Coordinator  

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