Innovation in education and assessment sounds good . . . but there’s never enough time.
The ESSA expanded the possibilities for assessment, and invited stakeholders to begin to create innovative assessments. However, a question we hear from state and local educators is: How can we find time to create and evaluate new possibilities, much less devote time to trying out new things in schools?
We’ve identified 10 sources of time pressure that might create roadblocks to innovation.
Top 10 Time Issues
>>Turnaround Time for Test Results
>>Time to Personalize Instruction
Initiative Fatigue—Time to Prepare to Innovate
Last month I began a series of blog postings about these issues, and discussed the first two topics in the list. We’ll continue to cover these topics over the next few months, explaining the issues and offering suggestions to mitigate the time crunch and information to inform the discussion.
In this post, we’ll cover the issues of turnaround time for test results, and time to personalize instruction.
Turnaround Time for Test Results
What’s the problem?
- Turnaround time for complete results of state tests is often a matter of months for two reasons: human scoring of non-selected-response components and the efforts to obtain clean, complete data files containing the test data from all students and schools.
- Many teachers suggest that they often do not have enough time to grade students’ constructed responses on local tests and therefore rely heavily on multiple-choice tests.
What can we do?
- Turnaround time may be a red herring in this discussion. General end-of-year achievement measures used for state testing do not provide—and should not be expected to provide—detailed individual student diagnostic information that teachers can use immediately to inform instruction.
- State tests provide excellent information to help guide programmatic improvements by identifying curricular areas of weakness and underperforming subgroups. These purposes don’t require immediate results. In fact, it might take several years to detect patterns that warrant important actions.
- Evidence from the instructional process of formative assessment is gathered by teachers in real time. Effective formative assessment practices, which usually do not involve grading, could significantly reduce the amount of time teachers spend creating and scoring classroom summative assessments and compiling grades, freeing time for evaluating actual student work for formative or summative purposes.
Time to Personalize Instruction
What’s the problem?
- Large group lecture/demonstration and testing are efficient from a time perspective, but often do not result in individual student needs being addressed adequately.
- The merits of personalized instruction are well recognized; however, finding the time to actually implement it is seen by many as virtually impossible.
What can we do?
- Formative assessment principles and practices and 21st-century learning call for changes in the way many teachers and students spend their time.
- Students, individually or in small groups, can gain foundational knowledge and skills on their own from a variety of resources, including online systems.
- Students can be engaged as peer-to-peer resources for learning and checking understanding—a formative assessment strategy.
- The teacher can then: 1) facilitate learning and check understanding, providing feedback and guidance to students individually, and 2) provide opportunities (e.g., tasks or projects) that are engaging and allow students to apply foundational knowledge and skills and demonstrate deeper learning.
In Blog #3 of the series, we’ll cover:
- Time for Students to Reflect
- Time to Innovate in the Classroom
- Data Overload—Time to Process Information