Assessing, or measuring, students’ content knowledge and skills is one of the most complex and controversial topics of discussion in education. For more than 10 years, the word assessment has been synonymous with high stakes standardized tests, used to compare schools and states against one another, to allocate federal funding and increasingly to evaluate teachers. Many have argued that in their current state, assessments have become accountability tools that end up hurting teachers, rather than helpful tools for teachers.

But the movement against standardized testing grows, as parents are choosing to opt their children out, even if it means there may be repercussions.

Amidst this backlash against standardized tests, many schools and teachers are finding ways to give students meaningful feedback on their work before testing them, so they have time to improve or shift course. These formative assessments — check-ins on how well students are learning stage by stage — help teachers recalibrate and meet students they are. To that end, educators will find a slew of tech products that promise to make these formative assessments easier.

Take a look at the posts below, which provide examples of how teachers are using technology to help assess student learning moment by moment, including one effort to use video games for assessment.


1. The Importance of Low-Stakes Student Feedback

2. Rethinking Assessment: Trusting Teachers to Evaluate Student Learning

3. Beyond the Bubble Test: How Will We Measure Learning in the Future?

4. In an Era of Global Competition, What Exactly Are We Testing For?

5. How Do You Measure Learning?

6. SimCityEDU: Using Games for Formative Assessment

7. Is Kindergarten Too Young to Test?

8. More Progressive Ways to Measure Deeper Level of Learning

More Progressive Ways to Measure Deeper Levels of Learning

How do we measure learning beyond knowledge of content? Finding that winning combination of criteria can prove to be a complicated and sometimes difficult process. Schools that are pushing boundaries are learning that it takes time, a lot of conversation, and a willingness to let students participate in that evaluation.

Far Beyond Test Scores, What We (Should) Value In Students

From Jackie Gerstein's resource-rich site comes this sweet infographic depicting the skills we'd like to instill in our students. The post also includes a long, helpful list of resources for everything from how to help students develop hope, to encouraging empathy and social and emotional skills, to how to foster grit, tenacity and perseverance: an educator's guide.


Rethinking Assessment: Trusting Teachers to Evaluate Student Learning

Many educators are hoping that through the Common Core State Standards, teaching and assessment can focus more on problem-solving and the process of getting to an answer. But even those process-oriented skills will be assessed with a standardized test. The benefits of the harder-to-quantify skills aren't easily disentangled from academic achievement scores, making it hard to prove through tests that alternative teaching and learning styles can achieve measurable outcomes.


Report: Federal Rules Impede Competency-Based Learning

Competency-based learning, which allows students to progress at their own pace after they’ve shown mastery of a subject, rather than by their age, is quickly gaining momentum. Already, a few states like New Hampshire, Maine, and Oregon are moving towards implementing competency-based learning models throughout the entire state. What’s more, 40 states have at least … Continue reading Report: Federal Rules Impede Competency-Based Learning →


SimCityEDU: Using Games for Formative Assessment

SimCity As game-based learning gains momentum in education circles, teachers increasingly want substantive proof that games are helpful for learning. The game-makers at the non-profit GlassLab are hoping to do this with the popular video game SimCity. GlassLab is working with commercial game companies, assessment experts, and those versed in digital classrooms to build SimCityEDU, a … Continue reading SimCityEDU: Using Games for Formative Assessment →


More Teachers Refuse to Give Standardized Tests

By Ann Dornfeld An entire school of teachers in Seattle is refusing to give students a standardized test that’s required by the district. The teachers say the test is useless and wastes valuable instructional time. Meanwhile, individual teacher protests of standardized tests are popping up nationwide, and the Seattle case may make bigger waves. Students … Continue reading More Teachers Refuse to Give Standardized Tests →