Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Digital Assessment Tools

Assessment is a large, important, and oft-debated necessity in education. The traditional view of assessment hinged strongly on summative evaluations -  assessments after the fact, such as a comprehensive exam or final paper. However, the current best practice in evaluating learning is to deploy frequent and thoughtful formative assessments, where teachers build in "check-in points" during the learning process that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. The goal of this evaluation framework is to inform the educator of what specific needs are present in their students and whether they need to augment their future lessons in response to those needs. It is important to note that the post-evaluation reflection and intervention is the defining feature of a formative assessment. Measuring student performance or collecting data is not formative unless you use the information to help your students.

In today’s classrooms there are a variety of tools to help teachers integrate formative assessments into their curriculum, as well as to gather and organize the data these assessments generate. Some of my favorite tools are discussed below:


Socrative describes itself as a digital assessment tool that uses "real time questioning, instant result aggregation and visualization, [so that] teachers can gauge the whole class’ current level of understanding." One strong merit of this application is its flexibility, in that it can be used on multiple platforms, including smartphones, tablets and computers. Furthermore, it allows for personalization and differentiation of the learning process by allowing teachers to create their own assessments based on the specific needs of their students.


Formative is an exceptional tool to help teachers devise and distribute engaging assessments. The evaluation process is simple with Formative. Within the app a teacher is able to create an assessment, distribute it to students and respond with real time feedback. Formative is also aligned with the principle of Universal Design for Learning that calls for students to be allowed to display their knowledge in multiple ways. Thus, formative allows students to respond to assessment prompts by writing, drawing, or by submitting pictures. Furthermore, Formative is aligned with Common Core and NGSS, and also helps teachers in their pursuit of a paperless classroom.

Exit Ticket

Exit Ticket is a tool that allows teachers to create formative assessment measures, administer them during class periods, and glean real time data about student performance. The types of evaluation tasks a teacher can create are organized into pre-assessments, checks for understanding, tasks to promote discussion, and mid-way checkpoints. Once a student completes an assessment, both the student and the teacher will receive real time data on the student’s understanding of the concepts being taught. Furthermore, Exit Ticket also allows teachers to differentiate their assessments to meet the diverse needs of their student population. For example, using the Groups add-on, teachers can provide special accommodations to sections of their class. When authoring a list of questions, the teacher is able to then customize what questions each group will see.

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