Data-Driven Lessons: Why it is Important to Assess Students
Imagine going to your doctor with a stomach ache. You describe your pain, point out where it is and how long you’ve been suffering. Your doctor gives you an antacid and says, “let’s see if this works, and if it doesn’t, that’s ok, we’ll try another treatment.” You can get lucky and the antacid solves your problem, but chances are, without any “real” assessments, or tests, your doctor is wasting time and prolonging your suffering.
Educators today could be doing the same thing. Without assessments, teachers are blindly teaching their students lessons that are “effective” in and of themselves but may not be the lesson that the student needs. This leads your student frustrated, defeated, and feel that they cannot learn. This almost looks like educational malpractice. Yet this is common practice in the classroom and even in educational centers whose goal is to help their students either “catch up” or get ahead.
The good news is that there are great assessment tools out there like NWEA (North Western Educational Association) that help educators determine what the student knows and what they are ready to learn next. This is crucial in that it saves students precious time in receiving lessons that they have already mastered, or are given lessons that they are not ready to tackle. Every lesson could be tailored specifically to meet your student's needs at the level that they can succeed.
There are important steps to ensure that data is being used properly. First, make sure that the assessment tool is able to provide consistent data and that information is organized in a way that is easy to understand and analyze. Secondly, and maybe most important, the educator must be able to use this data and turn them into actionable lessons that focus on improving any skill deficiencies and challenging their students at the right level. Lastly, using the assessment consistently will show your student’s growth and continue to give educators what they are ready to learn.
“It’s a significant paradigm shift—from approaching student learning as ‘What’s wrong with this child?’ to ‘What can I do to help meet this child’s needs?’ When people believe in their ability to intervene and truly influence learning, they can create very powerful results,” -Dr. Jill Johnson. No more guessing or hoping that the lesson will be effective.
Read more about NWEA MAP Growth assessments: https://www.nwea.org/map-growth/ .