A challenging area often misunderstood in education, or often misrepresented, are the three core types of assessments:
- Assessment for Learning
- Assessment as Learning
- Assessment of Learning.
Just that small “for, as, of” change makes a big difference in how we define that type of assessment, and the purpose it serves. The best analogy I can think of (though I am sure there are many) is to think of our students as participants in a race or marathon. Maybe they’re doing a Tough Mudder, and we’re their conditioning coach.
Before the race, you might ask them/yourself: How fit are they? How often do they run? What is their exercise, sleep, nutrition routine like? Do they have any conditions that might limit them? These questions point to their readiness, and what in particular may need to be worked on before they start the race. This is Assessment for Learning – where are they at, and what do we need to work on?
So we get to work, developing those nutrition habits, or improving cardio stamina. The whole while, we’re measuring as we go, and coaching “15 minutes running, 10 minutes light jog yesterday, let’s try for 17 running and 8 light jog today,” “how’s your heart rate doing? How does that compare to yesterday’s numbers?” “What’s going on with your sleep lately? How can we set you up to get that full 8 hours successfully?” The runner and coach are equal participants in the process and steps toward conditioning for the big day. This is Assessment as Learning – checkins, measurable progress toward a goal, maybe even just feedback and encouragement “You’re on track, you’ve got this!”
Then race day comes, and they’re off. By the end of the day, they’ll have finished the race, and coach will have their Assessment of Learning – the performance in this race. We might get caught up in that final time – how fast did they run (evaluation, grade) but how they ran the race matters too.