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Can edtech help assessment problems?

It's important for educators to lead the way when it comes to managing the assessment process - with technology here to help.

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School assessment procedures – particularly those in primary schools – are causing controversy, confusion, and even anger among some teachers and parents. So much so that the government has just announced a series of changes to primary school assessment in Parliament. The changes include:

  • Not imposing maths and reading SATs resits for children arriving in year 7. Instead children will be offered support to catch up lost ground
  • Allowing teachers to choose whether or not to use key stage 1 spelling, punctuation, and grammar tests this year
  • Not introducing any more new tests or national assessments before 2018
  • Keeping the EYFS in place for 2017/18
  • A consultation on primary assessment in the new year.

A holistic review of primary assessment is needed to ensure we have a system that is fit for purpose; one which works for pupils, parents, teachers, and school management teams alike. However, in the meantime, there are steps teachers can take to gain control of the formative assessment process in their schools – particularly as primary schools only have to resort to the set framework at the end of each key stage.

How technology can support formative assessment in primary schools

There’s no doubt that assessment is a confusing area for primary schools these days. However, with online tools, apps, and platforms teachers can:

Collect meaningful assessment data

Rather than keeping paper copies of assessment data, technology can be used to help monitor and update student performance records over time.

While over seven out of ten educators are using online technology to track formal assessment, only one in three use it to track informal assessments. State of Technology in Education Report, 2016/17

But more than this, by integrating instant assessment tools such as polls and quick quizzes into the classroom – with immediate feedback – teachers can better adapt their lessons to address any misconceptions or gaps in student knowledge.

Reduce the pressure of assessment on pupils

For many students, test are stressful. However, technology can help make formative assessment an integral part of the day-to-day classroom with regular fun polls and quizzes; removing the pressure, engaging students, and gathering insight into progress. What’s more, by sharing learning and answers with the whole class, teachers can further stimulate discussion and active participation.

Increase flexibility

Cloud-based educational technology gives students access to online assessments at a time that best suits their individual learning style and needs. Encouraging students into becoming investors in their own education, this approach is becoming increasingly popular here in the UK.

Meet the needs of each and every child

Teachers work hard to meet needs of all their pupils; and technology designed for the classroom makes this process a whole lot easier. With the best assessment technology, teachers can set different questions for different students (or groups of pupils), depending on their ability, learning style, or project; so no child becomes frustrated and disengaged.

Tools such as Explain Everything can also be used by pupils to record their thoughts and explain their thinking; adding an extra level of insight and helping teachers to figure out where their pupils need help.

Understand the emotional needs of pupils

Emotion has an enormous impact on the assessment process, but understanding and reacting to the emotional needs of students can be challenging. However, help is at hand with new technology designed to give teachers a greater awareness of the emotional impact of their learning activities, assessments, and teaching methods (e.g. Subtle Stone – a handheld device that lets students privately communicate their emotional state directly to their teacher).

Plan more effectively

With access to educational technology that provides quality, collated assessment data, teachers can use this information to better inform and plan future lessons. And identify and address the particular needs of any pupils and groups.

In conclusion

When it comes to assessment for learning, schools have undergone a period of incredible change. So, perhaps – now more than ever – it’s important for educators to lead the way when it comes to managing the assessment process – with technology helping to make this happen.