How rapid feedback on assessments could help enhance teaching

Published in:  Education, Tests and Assessments

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village

Data from current and past tests and assessments, class room behaviour, student retention, etc., are an important resource in evaluating the quality of educational programs and services and identifying areas for improvement. An interesting article in the ACT blog looks at the results of a recent study which shows that, despite the wealth of data collected and made available to them, teachers have difficulties in using data effectively for decision making. Only 65% of teachers found the data “useful”, or very “useful” compared to 91% of district administrators and 85% of principals.  The barriers cited most often were insufficient time to work with the data and inadequate technical skills. Possible solutions include providing tools to aid data use and improving teacher assessment literacy. But the problems do not lie with the teachers alone: the time between when an assessment is given and its results are returned is also an important factor. When results take a long time to be returned the data become less useful for teachers. The author says that if data were consistently used “hand-in-glove with real-time instruction” its use by teachers could increase considerably. The ACT is moving more of its assessments online so that rapid feedback is possible. “Aspire” and “ACT WorkKeys” are already available online, and the ACT test is due to be delivered online as of this fall. “Using sound data to enhance great teaching is an outcome every educator at every level should find ‘useful’ or ‘very useful’ for years to come”.