Priorities of Assessment for Learning

The past two years have had a devastating impact on student learning. However, a renewed emphasis on learning is a top priority, and assessment for learning plays a powerful role in addressing it. Simultaneously, social-emotional effects need to be addressed; but these affects must be one with an academic pursuit.

Initial Steps

Grasp of the learning status of students entering school in September requires access to data and information from available sources. An immediate source would be NYS testing, particularly in reading and math. Here is available data for grades 3 through 8 which provides valuable insight into student learning to show areas where they are doing well and where they are being challenged.

The necessity for access to good assessment reporting is essential. Here is where EdVistas may be of assistance with it: DataMate Assessment and Reporting System. This system provides numerous reports that bring data to the level of information for action. They run the gamut from:

  • individual student, grade, section
  • distractor analysis for objective items
  • breakouts for performance items
  • standards clusters
  • performance levels

While DataMate provides more, there is an additional dimension which must be acknowledged. DataMate is programmed to provide reports which redistribute students’ data from the previous year to provide their new teachers with what has been called a “free pre-assessment.” Just imagine teachers in grades 4 through 8 having assessment data for their entering students from NYS testing completed in the spring of the previous year. This is all possible due to the manner in which DataMate is able to work with any and all student information systems. School districts to which EdVistas provided NYS test scoring have immediate access to this reporting dimension.

Continued Steps

Early assessments, as well as continued formatives, which may vary in purpose and nature for all grades are helpful. These may take the form of simple to more complex approaches which may be interactive in nature to inform and not simply to test. Learning through performance is a tried-and-true way to grasp insight into a student’s zone of proximal development. Remember: assessment does not have to be something we do to students; rather it may be the basis for helping students.

This school year will certainly present a level of learning challenge not seen before. We should be confident that we are not only able to meet the challenge, but we are able to exceed it.

Dr. Bruce H. Crowder is a senior researcher for Educational Vistas, Inc. His work is primarily focused on creating pathways for deeper learning for all students through student performance and a dynamic curriculum replete with strategic teaching. Dr. Crowder may be reached at