“Next generation student assessment.” I’ve defined it elsewhere as the integration of new technology and better assessment techniques that allow teachers to know more about their students. Still, that is such an amorphous term. There is no consensus on the structure or form of next generation student assessment. Irrespective of the lack of clear definition, there is agreement on its benefits. There’s no denying the positive impact that next generation student assessment provides to teachers and to students. Here are three key benefits that are readily available as teachers and students engage in next generation student assessment.
Personalize student learning
Next generation student assessment empowers teachers to truly personalize learning for students. Personalizing student learning is not an easy task. There is not one specific thing that a teacher can and must do to personalize learning for students. There is a host of things that can and should be done. One of the things that can be done is to use educational technology to conduct next generation student assessment.
Next generation student assessment technologies encourage an assessment practice that is learner focused. These assessment platforms encourage self-assessment, giving students opportunities to assess their own learning through self-reflection exercises. For example, giving students the opportunity to rate their confidence as they take a test allows them to justify their answers and reflect on why they got a question right or wrong. These technologies can also help students set learning goals and teachers to monitor their students’ progress towards achieving those goals. They also make it easier for teachers to conduct formative assessments. These are all practices that help teachers personalize student learning.
Next generation student assessment systems facilitate data-driven instruction. This is a great benefit as schools and teachers continually look for useful and actionable student data to guide their instruction. With next generation student assessment, all test questions can be aligned to state standards or local learning targets. As test questions are developed to measure these standards or learning targets and as they are delivered on these assessment platforms, there is no “data crunching” for the teacher to do. All the heavy lifting is automatically done for the teachers.
Reports tracking each student’s achievement by learning targets are automatically computed and shareable. Reports for the classes or schools are computed and shareable. All this makes it easy for teachers and professional learning communities to effectively make sense of student achievement data and to make appropriate instructional decisions individually or as a group.
Tech digital literacy
Next generation student assessment reinforces digital literacy. As 21st century students in a personalized learning environment, students must have the skills to collaborate, share, learn and connect with their teachers and peers. Students should have the requisite literacy skills to create and stay connected with their learning network.
When students take their exams online, they develop their digital literacy skills. They are not just merely using computers or tablets to take tests; they are learning to use the feedback information that is given to them to make adjustments to their learning. The information they receive can be feedback from their teachers, additional instructional resources from the Internet or other resources.
Obviously, digital literacy is more than just being able to use a computer or tablet to take tests. Students must have the knowledge and ability to find and make sense of digital information. They should be able to connect and collaborate with others, including teachers. They should be able produce and share original content. They should be able to use this information to adjust and adapt their learning (i.e., to personalize their learning). Incorporating educational technology tools like a next generation student assessment platform is a good way to supplement your digital literacy practice.
The bottom line is that next generation student assessment, however we choose to define it, is needed. It is needed to help students engage, take ownership, and personalize their learning. And it is needed to help teachers get the most useful and actionable data to inform their daily instructional decisions.
Adisack Nhouyvanisvong is an educator and entrepreneur. He teaches graduate courses on assessment practice and theory at the University of Minnesota. He also is the co-founder of Naiku, Inc., a firm that specializes in supporting districts with their transition to next generation online student assessment. Nhouyvanisvong earned his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University.
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