Education Week - October 28, 2015 - (Page 28)

COMMENTARY The Effective Use of Testing: What the Research Says M Gregory Ferrand for Education Week By John Hattie uch of the testing discussion in the United States today is grounded on several widely accepted notions: that we first must get the actual assessment instrument right, that there is an important distinction between "formative" and "summative" assessment, that teachers need to understand the language of assessment, and that we should drop tests on schools like "precision bombs" for the purpose of measuring a student's performance and progress. These notions are misguided, as decades of research from around the world on what matters most in student learning demonstrates. In fact, the major purpose of assessment in schools should be to provide interpretative information to teachers and school leaders about their impact on students, so that these educators have the best information possible about what steps to take with instruction and how they need to change and adapt. So often we use assessment in schools to inform students of their progress and attainment. Of course this is important, but it is more critical to use this information to inform teachers about their impact on students. Using assessments as feedback for teachers is powerful. And this power is truly maximized when the assessments are timely, informative, and related to what teachers are actually teaching. We hardly need more data-schools are awash with data. Instead, we need better interpretations of these data. When we built the New Zealand school assessment system 15 years ago, we started by designing the reports, rather than the tests. The reports were piloted to ensure we met our own two criteria: * Did the teachers and school leaders interpret the reports correctly? (And if not, we needed to change the reports.) * Was there a consequential action from the reports? After many iterations of the reports, we were able to meet these criteria, and then, and only then, we backfilled them with great assessment items. The reports, not the tests, are what matter to teachers and school leaders; they are hungry for information to help them know their impact on their students. At the system level, policymakers are happy to receive continual information on the status of learning in the country without all the negativity that comes with high-stakes testing. Given that the New Zealand assessment system is voluntary, it's worth noting that a majority of teachers and schools still use it today, 15 years later. Until we see tests as aids to enhance teaching and learning, and not primarily as barometers of how much a student knows now, on this day, on this test, then developing more tests will add | INSIDE | 20 DO MILITARY RECRUITERS BELONG IN SCHOOLS? little, and will remain an expensive distraction. Educators need to understand what each student already knows, and where that student needs to go next in the teaching process. They need to be experts in using an array of interventions to help get their students to success, and to evaluate the impact that they've made. As an education researcher, I know this because I spent more than 15 years collecting nearly 1,200 meta-analyses of 65,000 education studies focused on the learning of more than 250 million students around the world. Because almost any education intervention can claim some positive effect on learning, I developed a threshold to determine effect. Far and away the most effective teaching intervention we found was what I call "visible learning": raising the quality of the feedback teachers receive about their impact. Expert teachers assess the visible impact they have on their students, 20 28 | EDUCATION WEEK | October 28, 2015 | ON THE AP U.S. HISTORY FRAMEWORK constantly monitor learning and seek feedback about their teaching, and then evaluate and adjust their teaching methods based on these findings. Teachers show students how to self-assess their own performance, and discuss how they can improve. These are the major influences for raising achievement. Students can be beneficiaries of assessment, provided we start by asking, "Who owns the test data?" The answer must be the students-it is their schooling, their lives, their futures that are at stake in classrooms-and so the focus should be first on developing "student assessment capabilities." It is then incumbent on teachers to teach students how to know when the best time to asPAGE 23 > " Students can be beneficiaries of assessment, provided we start by asking, 'Who owns the test data?' " JOHN HATTIE is a professor of education and the director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia. 21 UNEARTHING THE HUMANITY BENEATH STEREOTYPES 22 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 28, 2015

Education Week - October 28, 2015
Study Paints Chaotic View of Testing
In L.A., Tensions Rise Over Teacher Investigations
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: ‘Ephemeral’ Apps Put School Leaders in Tricky Spots
Unequal Access to Advanced Classes Targeted
Fighting Subtle Bias
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Oak Foundation Aiding Those With ‘Learning Differences’
Long-Term Study to Track Adolescent Brain Development
Blogs of the Week
In Minneapolis, a Targeted Effort To Bolster Black Boys
School-Parent Linkages Chip Away at Cultural Barriers
Fate of Programs Complicates Path To ESEA Compromise
Some School Choice Backers Tepid On Title I Portability Proposal
State Chiefs Look to Montana For Ways to Meet the Needs Of Native American Students
Signs Point to Increase in High School Graduation Rates
Blogs of the Week
SETH KERSHNER & SCOTT HARDING: Do Military Recruiters Belong in Schools?
JEREMY A. STERN: On the AP U.S. History Framework
Unearthing the Humanity Beneath Stereotypes
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JOHN HATTIE: The Effective Use of Testing: What the Research Says

Education Week - October 28, 2015