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Less T’s=Tests & Measures of Learning

T, Letter, Alphabet, Alphabetically, Abc

Can you find the letters of the word TEST within the word ASSESSMENT? It’s okay to use the T twice. But, what is the real difference between an assessment and a test? Here’s a brief answer:

A TEST is a tool or technique that measures the outcomes of learning. It relies on recall of knowledge and the student’s ability to use that information correctly in completing specific questions or tasks. Generally, tests have higher stakes attached to them than assessments and are considered summative in purpose.

ASSESSMENT is typically used throughout teaching and learning to check for understanding, reveal progress, and address lingering gaps. It comes in many forms, such as rubrics, student reflections, and progress trackers. Assessment also provides a window into learning and tracks the development of knowledge, skills, and higher level thinking. The categories below describe the key ideas (framework), but please note that with small adjustments, many of these concepts can fit into other categories.



  1. Can explain the learning intentions and how learning outcomes will be assessed.
  2. Begin with what they already know. For example, before learning, students can record things they know/understand about the topic, then after learning, clarify and elaborate that list.
  3. Appreciate that missteps can turn into opportunities for improvement.
  4. Realize that assessment-stress is normal. Develop a plans and have strategies for managing it.
  5. Understand AND describe the success criteria at different levels of the rubric.
  6. Recognize where they fit on the assessment mindset spectrum from “I give up easily.” to “I consistently work hard” or “It helps if I have specific directions” to “I like to figure things out myself.”
  7. Acknowledge that in the long run, progress is more important than one single grade.


  1. Begin learning by annotating their learning intentions, explaining their initial level of mastery, and describing what they expect to learn about the topic.
  2. Prefer opportunities to annotate their answers rather than take selected choice tests. Peggy says, “Well, there are two meanings of the word wind, and I wasn’t sure whether the question was about the wind pulling the kite upward (Choice B) or about the person flying a kite who should wind the string more tightly. (Choice D)”
  3. Rely on rubrics that elaborate the clarity and depth of responses. For example, “Gave it my best guess” to “I explained different ways to solve the problem” or “I created an original pathway for learning.”
  4. Illustrate their answers to questions (for example, about a historical event or scientific process) or prepare a graphic to display a comparative analysis of readings, viewings, or concepts.
  5. During learning, complete quick check-ins such as a “minute quiz,” where students offer briefs insights into their current understanding and/or ask questions to clarify and develop their learning.
  6. Summarize portions of learning rather than waiting until its conclusion. This works with many topics ranging from historical events, poetry, or the periodic table.


  1. In place of multiple-choice tests, students summarize their learning by using and explaining selected terminology and concepts associated with the purposes of learning.
  2. Complete exit slips with questions such as “What was easiest/hardest about learning” or “Explain 2 other ways to learn this.”
  3. Pretend they are explaining their learning to an extra-terrestrial: What is most important to transmit  and how would they do it?
  4. Rely on a scoring rubric before they begin the assessment. During and after, they compare their work to an exemplar and describe what they would change or what is still perplexing.
  5. Review their returned assessments and summarize learning with “I used to think_____ but now I know______.”
  6. Have opportunities to self-correct their assessments and annotate what they did or didn’t know before learning and questions they still have about the topic.


  1. Self-grade by using a rating scale to compare their learning outcomes to each of the “unit’s” learning intentions/instructional objectives.
  2. Score their own assessment using a different colored pen/pencil with annotations of what was easy, confusing, or what they would do differently next time, and why. Alternatively, students can do this when a teacher-graded assessment is returned.
  3. Take a quiz that includes right and wrong answers or just several incorrect answers, then correct and explain the mistakes, missteps, and oversights.
  4. When assessments are returned and reviewed, students annotate their mistakes and missteps by explaining why/how they made the gaffe, what they now know, and/or how to fix it.
  5. Rely on “Choice Boards” for assessment where students can select one way to show their understanding, one way to apply their learning, and one original idea they have on the topic.


TAKE A QUIZ: Part 1 at assessmentnetwork.net/2020/01/quiz-on-testing-assessment-and-measurement/
QUIZ PART 2: https://bit.ly/3iWW408
Read about Assessment With Benefits at assessmentnetwork.net/2020/08/assessment-with-benefits/
Learn More: https://www.assessmentnetwork.net/
Prepared by Laura Greenstein at the Assessment Network, where everything is freely available

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