The mortar that strengthens literacy
Assessment is the mortar that holds together all the components of literacy instruction, providing the strength needed to build each child’s growth as a reader and writer. Effective student assessment includes not only assessment of learning, but assessment for learning. Many teachers associate assessment solely with the summative forms so prevalent in education today – state mandated tests such as the achievement test, short cycle evaluations, or end of unit tests. Authentic assessment is both formative and summative; it is continual and is integral to the curriculum.
Assessment for learning begins when teachers identify students’ needs as the basis for planning instruction. As teachers implement the Framework, they will use a variety of formative assessment strategies, including effective observation, leveling of students’ reading ability, conferences focused on essential skills and analysis of student work. These measures will help teachers gain dependable information about student learning and how it can be used to inform instruction, as well as to evaluate performance (Stiggins, 1999; Wiggins, 1998). In addition, throughout every component of the Comprehensive Literacy Framework, teachers seek ways to make classroom assessment student-centered, involving students directly in the assessment process and inviting them to take ownership of their own learning (Stiggins, 1999).