All Students Are NOT Created Equal

Syeita Rhey-Fisher
Syeita is a teacher, author, writer and advocate for educational equity.

Oct 22,2016

I think we can agree that all students are not created equal, right? Then why the heck would we choose to determine their intelligence and proficiency based on one standardized assessment? Simply put, that is foolish. If we are going to ensure that our children succeed, then we need to utilize various types of assessments to measure a student’s success. This is crucial for educators to have a complete picture of each child. Assessments are categorized into two groups… formative and summative.

Formative assessments are tests that informally assess a student’s growth usually during instruction. These are essential because they allow us to progress monitor in real time a student’s understanding of a lesson, objective or concept. Formative assessments also allow educators to provide feedback and adjust their instruction when it is apparent that students are just not getting it. Examples of formative assessments include:

  1.       Observation (ie: during peer discussions)
  2.       Student notes
  3.       Exit slips (ie: check for understandings/1-3 question quizzes)
  4.       Dipsticks (randomly selecting students to respond, thumbs up/down if understand or not)
  5.       Questioning

Summative assessments are more formal and/or generalized tests that can conclude a final unit of study or grade level. Here is where you want to give students negotiables or options for their final assessment to ensure appropriate measurement of growth for all of our diverse learners. There should be an assessment that plays to student’s different learning strengths such as dramatization, visual, linguistic, etc. Examples of summative assessments include:

Negotiables (centered around unit objectives)

  1. Final play or skit
  2. Powerpoint Presentation
  3. Poster Board presentation
  4. Essays
  5. Creative video presentation (ie: YouTube)

Non-negotiables: standardized- depends on district and grade levels (these are mandated standardized tests)

  1. CMTs
  2. SBAC
  3. SATs

So why again do we need to use various assessments in addition to the standardized assessments?

  • Students learn differently and we are accountable for the growth of all students
  • To provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning
  • To get a holistic picture of a student’s ability
  • To progress monitor during lessons and adjust instruction in real time because…

Not all students are created equal.

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