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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
Read about Assessment With Benefits at
Learn More:
Prepared by Laura Greenstein at the Assessment Network, where everything is freely available

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RENOVATE, REHAB, or RESTORE ASSESSMENT Complex Choices in Uncertain Times

Volkswagen, Vw, Camper, Bus, Monster Truck, Truck, 3D
Carpenter, Work, Tool, Board, Saw, Go, Wood, Build

Over time, new words have been invented, and old words redefined. Dictionaries add thousands of words each year. Consider these from Merriam Webster: HATERADE and ADULTING, and the redefinition of terms such as WOKE, SALTY, and SHADE.

Ideas, practices, and resources in educational assessment also continue to be modified. Like a house, assessment can be remodeled in multiple ways:               

  • RENOVATE: Renew, modify, or modernize, for improved functionality
  • REHAB: Update, revamp, and revitalize, for current requirements and usage
  • RESTORE: Revert to substantiated processes and practices that still work.

Few would trade their technologies for a chalkboard, while others would readily modify testing from selected choice and computer-based to student demonstrations of knowledge and skills.

With an old house, decisions come down to purpose, usefulness, and functionality: Glaze the windows or replace them; repair the old furnace or get a heat pump. Facts, finances, and preferences typically guide these decisions.

Similarly, educators have repeatedly renovated the symmetry and content of curriculum and testing. From the ideas of Horace Mann (1820s) to John Dewey (1920s) and policies of OBE (1990s), NCLB (2001), and ESSA (2015,) the pace and focus of disruptive mandates have increased. But it makes no sense to demolish the whole house because of a leaky roof.

Rather than razing education, toss what is no longer functional or suitable (a.k.a Marie Kondo), keep what is working, and fine-tune what has potential. Here are three alternatives to ongoing demolition that often leads to periods of controversial reconstruction.

RENOVATE ASSESSMENT: Replace praise and rewards with self-directed student identification of learning goals, challenges to overcome, and steps towards improvement. As feasible, allow learners to decide how to display learning outcomes: i.e., words, images, diagrams, actions. Janessa may write a poem about digestion or a historical period while Jasper prepares a flow chart of the sequence. Consistent and dependable scoring of organization, accuracy, depth, and clarity of content assures fairness.

REHAB ASSESSMENT: Update teaching and learning by incorporating multiple modalities and pathways for learning and assessing. Students can summarize with a 3-2-1 (3 facts, 2 ideas, and 1 lingering question), or prepare a matching or Jeopardy-type review. In the classroom, puppets can be repurposed to produce an original play, reenact scientific discoveries, or solve math problems. As with renovation, scoring criteria must be consistent across displays of learning.

RESTORE ASSESSMENT: Being a visual learner, I prefer 3-dimensional globes and models of the solar system to google maps. I also find joy in a beautiful analog clock for displaying the time. While ‘sit-and-git’ learning may work briefly to introduce a new theory or communicate vital information, brains learn best when they are actively involved.  Memory develops, not from soaking up facts, but from deeper thinking and productive actions.

Oversized Chellis Wall Clock

We may live in the information age, but effective and enduring learning is built on problem-solving, critical thinking, adaptability, and accountability. Standardized tests rarely measure those skills but, in the classroom, students can learn to sequence their steps as they solve a problem. (both mathematical and real-world), rely on multiple levels of thinking and learning, and chart their own pathways towards improvement.

Readings for Enrichment
Prepared by Laura Greenstein Ed.D. at

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Megaphone, Speaker, Speak, Loud, Communication

MORE Assessment AS/FOR Learning
LESS Tests/Measures OF Learning

  • In the early 1900s, the few who attended school and succeeded at the 3Rs received a diploma (less than 10%).
  • By 1940, 50% of young adults completed their high school education.
  • Today, 86% of the U.S. population receives a high school diploma, and 35% earn a bachelor’s degree.
  • In 1965, ESEA was enacted and led to over 50 years of continuously evolving standardized testing and benchmarks under NCLB and ESSA, including NAEP, SAT, Regents, PARCC, SBAC, PISA, and more.

Over time, we misplaced the crucial understanding that tests and measures OF learning are not the same as assessments FOR and AS learning (gauges, insights, and responses to learning outcomes.) The word assessment is derived from the Latin Assidere, meaning to sit beside another. The intent being to appraise learning, and then respond, redirect, and resolve learner’s misunderstandings, gaps, or missteps. Rather than rating and ranking students, teachers, and schools, the long-term emphasis of assessment must continue to be on improving learners’ comprehension and skills.

Rely on these three R’s of assessment AS and FOR learning: Relevant, Retained, and Responsive.

1. Relevance of the assessment to the learning purpose and process as well as the learner. For example, during learning, students can (individually or in small groups) match subject area terminology cards with definition cards. Alternatively, they can create the cards or provide illustrations or examples for others to explain.

2. Retention of learning can be increased through engagement (i.e., active and multimodal learning), retrieval practice during learning, and “meaning-making” via formative assessments that support students in making real-world connections. Encourage students to summarize their emerging understandings visually (i.e., concept maps), auditorily (i.e., word games), and/or physically (i.e., demonstrate it to another).

3. Responsiveness and self-regulation in managing and re-solving assessment outcomes. Provide opportunities for students to give and receive focused feedback in a risk-free setting, elaborate or add details to their answer, or explain why they still believe their answer is correct. (i.e., “Well, the word crane can be a powerful bird or a machine to lift things.”)

Pooja Agarwal, in an ASCD Education UPDATE (March 2020), explains another essential R, Retrieval. She points out that if a learner does not use what they learn, the learning does not last. Her recommendations for  supporting retrieval include:

  • Begin a new lesson in a unit by asking students to share what they learned or accomplished in the last class. (I suggest electronic sticky notes so students can agree/disagree, elaborate, or group ideas.)
  • At intervals, have students briefly stop their reading or viewing to retrieve and record learning. (Consider using empty outlines, where a framework or incomplete sentences are provided for students to work on during retrieval pauses.)

Agarwal concludes by explaining that the best learning isn’t about what you are trying to get into students’ minds, but rather how can you routinely and feasibly draw it back out. (Education Update, March 2020)

Putting R between the A and T leads to the ART of Assessment, where assessment supports better retrieval and more relevance than testing.

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ASSESSMENT SIMPLIFIED: 3 Steps for Student Success

FROM EARLY INSPIRERS including Plato (The Republic) and Socrates (Socratic Method) to 19th and 20th-century trailblazers and practical innovators such as John Dewey, Mary Mcleod Bethune, John Holt, Maria Montessori, Jean Piaget, and Abraham Maslow, educators have continuously relied on the prior experiences and accrued knowledge of others. (Learn more at 12 Pioneers in Education)  

THROUGH 21st CENTURY ACTIVISTS, educators continue to build on the expertise of “influencers,” including Linda Darling Hammond, John Hattie,  Malala Yousafzai, and National Academies Press. We also depend on resources, practices, and ideas whose sources we may not know, such as Khan Academy, Ted Talks, Flipped Classrooms, and Gamification.

INNOVATION CAN FALL SHORT: According to Jill Barshay (2020), only 18 Percent of recent educational innovations raised student achievement. Michael George (2019) explains that successful teaching and assessment do not have to depend on a continuous supply of new pedagogy. Many things can work depending on the context, content, and process: i.e., who is teaching, how and what is being taught, the learner’s ability to construct meaning, and the expected outcomes.  Thus, a caveat on innovation: Be sure that facts, evidence, and data are verified and validated. As the Queen of Hearts declared, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

As the meaning of a 21st-century education is continuously redefined (i.e., growth mindset, competency-based, project-based, cooperative, authentic, or virtual), the availability of knowledge and ideas continues to expand. At the same time, there are myriad ways to access, construe, and evaluate it. Rather than rushing into the newest innovation, it is more meaningful to return to the foundations of assessment. Consider how you can make it simpler and more straightforward by relying on these three steps:
1. INFORM: Articulate and Explain Content and Purpose 

Clarify, model, and display the learning intentions and routines of assessment. In their own words, students describe what they think they will learn, currently know, are curious about, and ways they may be able to use,  personalize, and show their learning.

When Gregor says, “Wow, I can use this to calculate each player’s average scores,” or Mariska says, “I think I will be okay with the addition but may need help with division,” their teacher notes each of their concerns and follows up on them during learning. Insights can be gleaned before learning (entrance slips), during (sticky notes), and after learning (3-2-1 activity). (Reference: Book 1)

2. ENGAGE: Build Meaning and Form Connections

Encourage and engage learners in striving towards mastery of their learning through multiple pathways and practices. Confirm that students are ready to learn; then support them in identifying their steps forward. Provide opportunities for exploration, practice, reflection, and tracking of progress.
Keenan decides to write a rap comparing penguins to gulls, while his twin sister Keanna chooses to illustrate (using words and pictures) their similarities and differences. Both can rely on a rubric that includes accuracy of vocabulary, clarity of comparison, and resourcefulness.

Think about ways you can use a mnemonic such as SOAR, for understanding the importance of engaging students as assessors. It stands for “Student Ownership and Agency leads to Results.” (Reference: Book 2)

3. ASSESS: Before, During, and After

Before, During, and After Learning: Assessments embedded throughout learning can guide students in identifying their starting point, monitoring progress, and fine-tuning evidence of learning. These also serve to address lingering misunderstandings and smooth the path to success. (Reference: Book 3)

When learning begins with a pre-assessment, students can later complete a similar post-assessment, score themselves, identify successes, and take steps towards improvement. In doing so, they develop a mindset of progress, a willingness to try new ways, and an understanding that learning is a lifelong process that requires persistence and flexibility that leads to success.


Barshay, Jill (2020) The ‘Dirty Secret’ About Educational Innovation. The Hechinger Report
And these resources:
Book 1. What Teachers Really Need to Know About Formative Assessment, ASCD (2010)
Book 2. Student Engaged Assessment: Strategies to Empower All Learners. Rowman and Littlefield (2020)
Book 3. Sticky Assessment: Classroom Strategies to Amplify Student Learning, Routledge Eye on Education (2016)
Also: Restorative Assessment: Strength-Based Strategies That Support All Learners, Corwin (2018)


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Assessment with Benefits

ASSESSMENT DEFINITIONS typically include these key ideas: 
  *Gauges the outcomes of teaching and learning.
*Gathers and utilizes information about students’ knowledge and skills.
*Depends on reliable data.    

A more comprehensive definition of assessment: It relies on gathering, analyzing, and using evidence and information from multiple sources about student outcomes in ways that best support students, inform instruction, make educational decisions, and improve learning outcomes.

Assessment is most effective when it benefits both the giver and receiver. What if there were ways to document the “return on assessment?”  This chart describes the practice, evidence, and outcomes when students are engaged IN the process of assessment as well as the benefits when they are empowered AS assessors.

AS ASSESSORS                    
TEACHERS ROLE Reconsider traditional “measures” of learning: Rely on practices that involve students in the process and methods of assessment. i.e., They write the questions.STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES Depend on validated research and best practices of student-engaged assessments to develop learners’ confidence, readiness to be assessed, and outcomes.
Share explicit learning intentions that students deconstruct into actionable and attainable learning processes and outcomes.Explain their goals, their learning intentions, and how they developed a personalized plan and process.
Offer a practical and predictable path for learning. Anticipate the need for flexibility and support. i.e., incorporate a “Learning Tracker.”Describe the path they planned and followed, what went as expected, and times that they needed to be flexible, backtrack, or take detours.
Incorporate progress and growth indicators such as checklists and rubrics for students to add to as they monitor progress throughout learning.Routinely display descriptions and documentation of their progress as well as areas for improvement.
Display exemplars of varying levels of achievement of goals: Have students compare and evaluate the exemplars.Present explicit evidence of learning and describe how their outcomes aligned or deviated from the learning intentions and plan.
Provide goal-based and actionable feedback that describes ways to resolve misunderstandings as well as close lingering learning gaps.For continuous improvement, students rely on and evaluate their use of feedback that is timely, relevant actionable, and user-friendly.  
Involve students in assessing their incoming skills and knowledge, how they will monitor progress, and feasibly evaluate the outcomes. i.e., assess pre & postPresent and explain where their learning started, the steps they took, and the quality of their final outcomes.

Based on the book: Student-Engaged Assessment:  Strategies to Empower All Learners by Laura Greenstein and Mary Ann Burke
Learn more at Assessment Network

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The Ups and Downs of Using Technology for Long-Distance Assessment

Life is often about considering choices, weighing options, and making decisions. From your favorite coffee to style of exercise, it is practical to think about your goals: Do you need a caffeine boost or a moment of relaxation or are aiming for endurance or strength?

Technology is not the learning, rather it is a resource for learning. Good intentions are not a substitute for being purposeful in achieving your goals. Nor is persuasive marketing the best guide to technologies for assessment. There’s a spectrum of substantiated advice and opinions on using emerging technologies for assessing learning.
Here’s a brief summary:

The Upside of Technology for Assessment       

  • Differentiates content and pacing for individual students.
  • Offers students enrichment and/or tutoring on specific subjects and topics.
  • Provides data that can be quantified, such as achievement of explicit benchmarks.
  • Facilitates creativity and production of original ideas and artifacts.
  • Reinforces reward centers of the brain encouraging continuous engagement.

The Downside of Technology for Assessment   

  • Modes of learning (i.e., visual, auditory, kinesthetic, social) are abridged.
  • Physical activity and the development of interpersonal skills may be hindered.
  • Real-time interaction, reflection, feedback, and questioning during learning are limited.
  • A narrowing of learning modalities may result in lower retention rates.
  • Reinforces reward centers of the brain, encouraging yearning for more screen time.

Deciding Who, When, Where, and How to Use Assessment Technologies

Decisions should be based on the learners’ requirements and the learning intentions. The lower end of the taxonomy; recall, understanding, and sequencing of steps is well-supported by technology.  Assessment of upper levels, such as analysis, evaluation, and generation of original ideas and products, requires more precision.

Technology itself may help a child build knowledge, but it cannot make children more logical. It does have the potential to be transformative when teachers and students are prepared to constructively choose, use, and evaluate the technology and learning outcomes. Technology is not a panacea for learning, nor a cure-all for raising test scores, but rather is most effective when it blends the best of teachers and machines. The emphasis must be on thoughtful adoption and valid implementation of appropriate and substantiated technologies in support of instructional aims.

Also see the May 2018 blog:

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Returning to School 5: Knowing What Students Know

You will also find these “RETURNING TO SCHOOL” blogs in the Toolbox

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Returning to School 4: Developing Students As Assessors

In their upcoming book (Rowman and Littlefield, June 2020), Mary Ann Burke and Laura Greenstein explain the importance of developing students as self-assessors. Key ideas include:

  1. Confirm that students understand the purpose and intentions of learning.
  2. Guide and support students as they develop plans for monitoring their learning.
  3. Incorporate practical processes for tracking their own progress as well as responding to oversights and misunderstandings.
  4. Encourage the use of feedback from multiple sources, including self-reflection, teachers, peers, and source material.

Heidi Andrade (2012) encapsulates the importance of developing students as self-assessors this way: “When assessment is student-focused, it centers on students’ strengths, needs, and interests; involves students in setting goals; promotes learning through growth; monitors progress; and determines how to address any gaps” (p. 2).

With practice and support, learners take on increasing responsibility for their learning as well as the appraisal of learning. In turn, this leads to the development of life-long skills such as responding and resolving learning challenges, recognizing that mistakes can be learning opportunities, enhancing problem-solving skills, and increasing independence and resourcefulness.


_____ 1. Ask students to explain learning targets in their own words.  
_____ 2. Incorporate checks for understanding throughout learning.
_____ 3. Acknowledge and encourage each student’s strengths and skills.  
_____ 4. Help learners appreciate mistakes as opportunities for improving. 
_____ 5. Have students recognize the connections between learning
intentions and outcomes.
 _____ 6. Provide feedback that is focused and actionable.
 _____ 7. Incorporate opportunities for self-scoring and self-correcting

Determining whether students are prepared to learn begins with cognitive and emotional readiness to learn, mastery of academic foundations, understanding of expected processes and outcomes of learning, awareness of personal strengths and struggles, and access to a playbook of strategies and resources for reviewing and fine-tuning learning. Below is an example of a rubric for student self-scoring and self-reflection.


  • Assessment is a strategy for furthering learning.
  • Comprehensive assessment requires the use of varied methods for multiple purposes.
  • Engaging students IN assessment and AS assessors is imperative.
  • When you must rely on summative scores, there should be no surprises for teachers or students.
  • Refocus Assessment AS a form of learning rather than solely a measure OF final outcomes.
  • Rely on multiple viewpoints of assessment, from a close-up lens to far-reaching implications.
  • Remember that assessment is not only an ending. It can also be a beginning.

Andrade, H. 2012

Assessment-ready learners understand assessment routines, engage IN assessment, and serve AS assessors throughout learning.

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Returning to School 3. Identifying & Responding to Lingering Learning Gaps

The word pandemic brings frightful images and evokes strong feelings including fear and loss as well as hope and even guffaws . Hollywood has done its part with “Outbreak” and “Contagion,” as well as “Idiocracy” and “Sharknado.”

In addition to interruptions in learning, there are social and emotional ramifications of school closings including isolation, stress, economic challenges, limited access to technology, and inconsistencies in home-schooling. Even when students don’t face these dilemmas, it can be perplexing to figure out what each child knows and complicated to accurately measure progress, identify lingering gaps, and determine appropriate interventions. 

Many learners become frustrated when they find themselves in a “learning pit,” as James Nottingham describes it. ( Like teeth that weaken from too many sweets, brain synapses can be altered from too little cognitive stimulation or too much emotional overload.
One of the resources I frequently turn to is “Knowing What Students Know” from the National Research Council. It informs and advises on numerous assessment topics from the neuroscience of learning to effective use of data. A fundamental take-away is that there is no single “best” practice in assessment. Instead, it is necessary to rely on a spectrum of assessments from factual recall, to analysis of evidence, and demonstrations of learning.

Accurate assessment is grounded in these ABCs:
   A. Alignment of assessment with standards, teaching, learning, and local assessments.
   B. Balanced, practical, and purposeful, assessment strategies for substantiating student learning.
   C. Coherent, meaningful, and useable responses to students’ evidence of learning.

Closing lingering learning gaps relies on these four practices for deciphering and diminishing them:
1. Determine the size of the gap. Lagging by one lesson requires different remediation than missing months of learning. Focus on the diagnostic aspects rather than solely summative outcomes.

2. Rely on multimodal summaries and reviews (i.e., reading, doing, observing, listening) that incorporate opportunities for all students to catch-up. Another option is to give students a choice of the best ways for them to learn and display their learning.

3. Transfer ownership for closing gaps to students, perhaps using a standards-based annotated checklist where students can rate their current level of achievement, describe what they do not understand, and choose strategies and resources to help them move forward.

4. Understand the cause of the gap. Content knowledge can be strengthened with a whole class review or individualized resources, reflection, and analysis. Encourage those who have higher levels of mastery to help peers. When learners face overwhelming social and emotional challenges, do not hesitate to seek professional support for them and you.

1. What elements of assessment have you mastered?
     How can you share (i.e. explain, demonstrate) your experience and expertise with others?
2. What skills and knowledge are most valuable to you?
       Which ones do you want to develop further and how will you do that?
3. What questions do you still have and skills you would like to develop?
     Where can you find the resources and guidance you need to move forward?

“I am still learning.” Attributed to Michelangelo, age 87

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Returning to School 2. Adjusting to the New Normal

After Disruption…..

As the kerfuffle abates, confusion subsides, and the dust begins to settle in classrooms across the globe, educators are setting their sights on helping students get back on course with their learning.

If everyone were restarting on a level playing field, it would be easy to assess mastery of expected learning outcomes during the months of being away from the classroom. Unfortunately, schools are not reopening under these ideal conditions: Some students have stayed on track towards meeting end of the year requirements. Others have lagged due to no fault of their own.

Blaming others is not a feasible solution, nor is telling learners and their families to pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps. Most boots no longer have those provisions and some students may not be as resourceful and self-starting as anticipated. Some schools and learners never had boots, others have outgrown them, and some have faced obstacles in using them on uneven learning paths.

The magnitude of the effects of school closings combined with varied student experiences at home, is yet to be known. Without a consistent road map, schools, teachers, and learners will be forging new and alternative pathways to success in meeting grade level and subject area requirements.

Here are four guideposts to keep learning and assessment on track when returning to schools and classrooms.

Time-tested, predictable routines are a good starting point. Fine-tune previously successful practices for getting students’ attention, engaging them in learning, and monitoring progress. Perhaps ask students to recall prior classroom expectations as well as suggest feasible modifications. It is best to avoid substantial changes such as regrouping or shuffling classes, introducing new curriculum, or restructuring schedules.

While keeping an eye on long-term goals and measures, use this time to integrate low-risk formative strategies in the classroom. Instead of a whole class review of vocabulary, have small teams of students select vocabulary words from a bowl and decide together the best way to review the definition and usage. They could choose to illustrate or acting it out or develop a mixed list of synonyms and antonyms for their classmates to sort into the correct category.

In addition to traditional teacher-guided routines and measures, consider asking students to demonstrate what they learned. They can prepare an empty outline for the class. As they explain their topic, others insert the correct word into their own outline. For example, when the outline says: The last major battle of the Civil War was at _________ Courthouse where General ______surrendered to General ___________. To incorporate higher levels of thinking, ask students to explain the significance or two aftereffects of this battle. Rather than having students provide one correct answer, ask them to elaborate on their thinking or explain a concept to a Martian.

It is possible to study for a test, select the right answer, and yet not be able to explain or demonstrate understanding. Instead, consider open-ended questions that require higher levels of thinking or evidence of learning. Students could write questions for others to answer, use the content vocabulary to write a poem or rap, or create media and visual images such as infographics. Note: it is best to accompany these less conventional methods with rubrics and other types of rating scales.   

UP NEXT: Identifying and Responding to Lingering Gaps

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