The Assessment Network

Sharing assessment & grading strategies that help students learn

All Blog Posts (134)

Focused Formatives

I came across this blog by Cassandra Erkens recently from a link on Twitter.  I was reminded of 2 things:

  1. Twitter is an excellent resource for professional development and professional growth, and
  2. Formative Assessment - Assessment FOR Learning - just makes sense.

I love how Erkens provides practical ideas for implementing AFL strategies into a classroom.  More importantly, though, is how she helps teachers decide what to STOP doing in order to make…


Added by Scott Habeeb on June 6, 2014 at 1:46pm — No Comments

AFL and Heart Monitors

Often, the most profoundly powerful concepts are simple at their core. AFL is such a concept.

Doesn't it just make sense? If we want young people to learn content or skills, we need to gather feedback - and help them gather feedback - on how their doing in relation to specific standards and then use that feedback - and train them to use the feedback - to guide learning.  

It's a lot like going to the doctor when you're sick.  You tell the doctor what's wrong…


Added by Scott Habeeb on April 25, 2014 at 11:37am — No Comments

Angelina or Brad? Thoughts on external motivators and the classroom.

Ok - which would motivate you more... A chance to win a date with Angelina Jolie or a chance to win a date with Brad Pitt?

Weird question, right?  I was watching a TV discussion about Hollywood's "most beautiful couple", and for some strange reason, I saw an educational corollary buried beneath it.  

Here's the point: If you would be motivated by a chance to win a date with Angelina Jolie, then a chance to win a date with Brad Pitt probably wouldn't do much for…


Added by Scott Habeeb on April 8, 2014 at 9:30pm — 1 Comment

Formative Assessment Infographic

Here's an excellent resource created and shared by Pam Jimison.  It's a great way to look at Assessment FOR Learning strategies.  What would you add to her graphic?

Added by Scott Habeeb on March 24, 2014 at 10:34am — No Comments

Is the FBI Academy "Real World Enough" - aka There are Redos in the Real World

Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about being an FBI agent, training to be an FBI agent, or anything at all related to the FBI...

Recently I had a conversation at church with a friend who is a former-English-teacher-turned-FBI-agent.  We were discussing a David Baldacci novel i was reading at the time about the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team.  My friend recommended a book by FBI Special Agent Christopher Whitcomb entitled…


Added by Scott Habeeb on February 23, 2014 at 7:41pm — No Comments

AFL as an Afterthought = Extra Headaches

I recently observed a wonderful Geometry class at my school taught by Helen Price.  There were quite a few techniques/strategies she used - from good use of direct questioning to giving students control of their learning to creating a positive culture - that would be worth sharing with others.  However, what really stood out to me was how well she incorporated AFL into the fabric of her planning.  It worked well.  As I watched her class I was reminded of the fact that AFL can't be an…


Added by Scott Habeeb on December 18, 2013 at 4:31pm — 1 Comment

Rick Wormeli on Redos and Retakes

If you considering how to make (or if you should make) redos and retakes a part of your classroom, you really need to spend some time listening/reading Rick Wormeli's thoughts on the subject.  He has a knack for combining the philosophical and the practical.  Here are some of his thoughts copied from an article he wrote in Ed Leadership back in November 2011.  A link to the entire article is included at the end:

When it comes to deciding whether to allow a student to redo an…


Added by Scott Habeeb on July 7, 2013 at 4:31pm — No Comments

Why Grades Should Reflect Mastery, Not Speed

Members of this site will appreciate the way middle school principal, Ryan McLane, has described the importance of Mastery Grading.  Read his Education Week article at: …


Added by Scott Habeeb on June 14, 2013 at 4:22pm — No Comments

Sports Analogies

As this site has grown, so has the number of sports and coaching analogies.  It seems that one way to communicate excellence in the classroom is to compare it to excellence on the field or court.  As sports-related posts/discussions/resources are added to The Assessment Network, links to them will be added to this blog, making it a one stop shop for all AFL-related sports references.



Added by Scott Habeeb on May 19, 2013 at 3:00pm — No Comments

Good Teaching is a Lot Like Coaching a Mule!

Good Teaching is a Lot Like Coaching a Mule!

If you’re reading this and are from Salem, VA you might have a clue what that statement means.  If you’re not from Salem you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about.

A little background: High school football is a pretty big deal in Salem, just like it is in so many small towns across our country.  But in Salem, Virginia, football might be a slightly bigger deal than in most towns.  The Salem Spartans have had great…


Added by Scott Habeeb on May 19, 2013 at 2:27pm — 1 Comment

Response to a Parent (from Rick Wormeli)

There's no other way to put it...  This is good stuff!

As schools and teachers adopt the philosophies of Assessment FOR Learning, it's only natural that grading practices will begin to change. (Click here for more info on grading as it relates to AFL.)  We need to realize that some of those changes will seem strange to some of the parents of our students.  It's…


Added by Scott Habeeb on May 7, 2013 at 9:30pm — 2 Comments

How SBL Shouldn't and Should Look in a Math Class

Educators steal from one another all the time.  It's how we get better.  


The following post is stolen from Matt Townsley (@mctownsley) and his MeTA Musings Blog - a great resource for AFL and Standards Based Grading ideas.  You can read the article in its entirety at: …


Added by Scott Habeeb on May 2, 2013 at 9:30pm — 1 Comment

Kevin Durant teaches us about Assessment FOR Learning

Sometimes when you're learning a new skill or trying to figure out how to apply a new philosophy, it helps to watch that skill or philosophy being used or implemented in a totally different arena.  Thinking outside the box and adopting new ideas can be difficult when you're extremely familiar with your own domain.  Observing the skill or philosophy at work in someone else's domain is less threatening.  Once you are able to see the benefit of the skill or the power of the philosophy it might…


Added by Scott Habeeb on April 27, 2013 at 8:02pm — No Comments

Ideas for Making Redos and Retakes Work

A natural outgrowth of the AFL philosophy is the idea that redos are essential to learning.  After all, if learning (rather than calculating a grade) is what's most important, and if for learning to occur students need lots of practice and opportunities to learn from their mistakes, then redoing an assignment just makes sense.  If students can't redo an assignment - either right away, at a later date, or by demonstrating mastery on a future assignment - then by definition the assignment was…


Added by Scott Habeeb on April 13, 2013 at 4:00pm — 3 Comments

Would this work? (A question for Math teachers)

First, a disclaimer: I am not and never have been a Math teacher.  After teaching Modern World History for 7 years, I went to the "Dark Side" and became an administrator, so I probably don't know anything about teaching Math.

However, I do know a few things about teaching in general.  Furthermore, I have a pretty good grasp of the philosophy of AFL and how applying it in the classroom can increase student learning.  So I'm going to give this a shot.

I've noticed…


Added by Scott Habeeb on February 21, 2013 at 4:36pm — 7 Comments

The Value of Practice

The January 2013 edition of the Association for Pyschological Science's journal has a great article about what impacts students' learning.  What they found is that certain techniques and strategies have a positive impact on students learning content (and should be continued) and that certain techniques and strategies have little to no impact on student learning (and should be stopped).

The strategies with little impact include summarizing content, highlighting, and rereading…


Added by Scott Habeeb on January 14, 2013 at 3:30pm — No Comments

Memory is the Residue of Thought - a strong case for AFL

Last spring during our division's professional development day I attended a presentation led by Curtis Hicks and Mark Ingerson.  Their presentation was based on the book Why Students Don't Like School by author and cognitive scientist,…


Added by Scott Habeeb on January 1, 2013 at 12:49pm — No Comments

Evidence of AFL's Impact on Teaching and Learning

As readers of blogs on this site know, I love the philosophy of Assessment FOR Learning.  However, a philosophy is only as valuable as the results it produces.  I'd like to share with you some results of AFL's impact on teaching and learning at the school where it is my privilege to serve as an Assistant Principal - Salem High School in Salem, VA.

From school year 1999-2000 to school year 2007-2008…


Added by Scott Habeeb on August 8, 2012 at 10:00pm — 2 Comments

Laying an AFL Bead in Welding

When our school first starting investigating Assessment FOR Learning 4 years ago, the first teacher we had address our faculty with an AFL classroom example was Bert Weschke, our Welding teacher.  Recently, as I have engaged in some conversations about applying AFL practices to the classroom - or more specifically, NOT applying those strategies - I have come back in my mind to Bert's example.  There's a lot to learn about AFL from the way Bert Weschke teaches students to "lay a…


Added by Scott Habeeb on June 6, 2012 at 3:49pm — No Comments

Assessing Student Performance in Online Classrooms

Assessment in on-line classes presents significant challenges for both students and teachers, especially for teachers like me who give a lot of importance to evidence gathered throughout the course by performance tasks.

The purpose of framing assessment around performance tasks is to clearly distinguish between those who really understand from those who only seem to because through performance understanding becomes "visible". This is the reason that assessments are frequently…


Added by Justin Scoggin on May 15, 2012 at 10:25am — No Comments

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