Using Diagnostic Classroom Assessment: One Question at a Time
by Joseph F. Ciofalo & E. Caroline Wylie - January 10, 2006
The No Child Left Behind legislation requires states and districts to pay more attention to issues of testing and to concerns about adequate yearly progress. One positive outcome has been continued attention to the alignment of standards, curriculum, and assessment at the state, district, and school level. However, while a focus on testing can illuminate potential learning issues, testing alone cannot move learning forward: To improve student performance, classroom instruction needs to improve. In this article, the focus is on what happens in classrooms on a daily basis between teachers and students in particular, giving teachers a framework to make adjustments that can improve student learning. The article presents a brief discussion of formative assessment and locates the use of diagnostic items in teachers’ daily practice as a specific formative assessment tool. This article is an analytic essay that focuses on the conceptual work of formative assessment that is the basis of a project in which 4th and 8th grade mathematics and science teachers are incorporating diagnostic items into their every day classroom practice. The article concludes with a suggestion that diagnostic items are not only a teaching resource that can be used to have immediate impact on classroom practice, but could also be used for professional development purposes.
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