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Are your Student Assessment Strategies Effective? Here’s How to Tell

Teachers spend hours each day teaching, instructing, and helping their students comprehend academic material. While students may have a knack for learning and quickly understand the information presented to them, other students may find it challenging to learn and comprehend certain academic concepts.

There are several reasons students may perform poorly or have little academic growth. The students could be at fault if they do not study, or if they do not make a sincere effort to learn. The teachers could be to blame if they do not adequately teach, or if they do not understand how to teach their students in the way that makes learning meaningful.

To avoid deficient performance in the classroom, teachers should regularly assess the progress of their students through quizzes, tests, and other means. If teachers do not adequately know how to interpret these results, however, they will not be able to help their students. To better evaluate their assessment strategies, teachers can use the following concepts:

Look at the Students’ Quiz and Test Scores

Teachers should periodically give their students quizzes and tests to prepare them for cumulative exams. Quizzes and tests should accurately cover relevant material to ensure that the students are ready for an academic final and to evaluate students and test their knowledge.

After teachers grade their students’ quizzes and tests, they should record each student’s score and compare the results. Teachers can find the average of the test scores or look at the scores individually. If the class average or most of the results are above 75%, teachers are likely to be practicing effective teaching in their classrooms. If, however, the results tend to be lower than 75-70%, this is a cause for concern. Teachers should consider re-teaching segments to specific students or the class as a whole.

Essentially, higher test scores indicate higher comprehension levels. Lower test scores indicate low levels of comprehension, and teachers should re-teach the material or provide assistance to the individual students who scored lowest.

Average the Students’ Scores per Question

While it is crucial to assess students’ scores on the entire test, helpful information can be learned as teachers analyze the assessment’s individual questions. Teachers should determine which test or quiz questions were missed the most. Teachers should grade per question and find the average score for each question on the test. As they calculate percentages for correct answers on each question, higher rates will indicate that more students were able to answer the question correctly. Problems that were missed by many students will have lower scores, and teachers will be able to tell which course material they should review with their class to reinforce growth (Renard).

Track Each Student’s Progress from Test to Test

As students complete assessments, quizzes, and tests, they will become accustomed to the material. The tests will seem more natural, and their scores should improve. According to an article by Lucie Renard, “To see your student’s grade evolution and progress, you have to take several evaluations. You don’t have to grade them, but you need something to measure their achievements. It’s easier with grades. You can also return student work with just feedback if needed” (Renard).

Teachers should keep track of their students’ scores in a practical notebook, journal, or spreadsheet. As they enter their students’ test scores, they will see if each student progressed from the previous assessment, or if their score dropped. By comparing test scores, teachers will be able to find those who need extra lessons or instruction.

Conduct Student-Teacher and Parent-Teacher Conferences

While teachers are educated in many areas, they cannot possibly know how a student feels about their schoolwork unless they counsel with them. Thus, teachers should regularly hold student-teacher conferences and meet individually with each student.

As teachers have personal conversations and discuss the student’s grades and assessment results, they will be able to help the student and create a study plan specifically for that student (Lambert).

Additionally, teachers should hold parent-teacher conferences every quarter of the school year to discuss grades, behavior, and academics with students and their parents. This allows teachers to understand students’ families, backgrounds, and specific needs in class. During these conferences, parents can also address their concerns and their child’s academic performance and behavior with the teacher. Together, they can create a plan that benefits both the teacher and the students.

Create In-Class Cues Students can Give when They do not Understand

By creating in-class cues or gestures, students can signal to their teacher when a concept is confusing or when they need the teacher’s help. Doing so will help educators improve their teaching skills before the test or quiz is administered, thus improving students’ academic performance.

There are several easy hand gestures teachers can teach their students. For example, at the end of a lesson, teachers can ask their students to give a thumbs-up if they understand. Then, they can ask students to give a thumbs-down if they need further instruction. The students who gave a thumbs-up can continue on their assignment, and the teacher can work with the students who signaled that they required more guidance (Mulvahill).

Another practical hand gesture students can use is the four-finger rating method (Mulvahill). At the end of a lesson or during the instruction of a concept, teachers can ask students to rate their comprehension on a scale of one to four. If students do not understand the idea, they raise one finger. If students are unsure and would like more help, they raise two fingers. If students feel that they know the concept, they raise three fingers. If students are confident in their understanding of the idea and know it well enough that they could help other students, they should raise four fingers. This proven method lets the teacher quickly know the overall needs of the classroom in an organized way and helps identify students who can help teach their peers (Mulvahill).

Have Students Submit Anonymous Surveys about the Teacher’s Effectiveness

Teachers can pass out surveys for students to evaluate the effectiveness of the teacher. Teachers can include questions such as:
  • “Do you understand the course material?”
  • “Does the teacher do a good job of explaining concepts?
  • “Does the instructor answer your questions?”
  • “Would you like more help from the instructor?”
  • “Do you think that the instructor addresses concepts too quickly?”
  • “Do you have any suggestions for the instructor to improve their teaching effectiveness?”
Students should answer some form of these questions honestly. To avoid embarrassment, they do not need to write their names on their papers. Teachers can review the feedback from the surveys and implement strategies that will address the concerns of their students.

As teachers evaluate quiz and test scores, regularly counsel with the students and their parents, create a practical cue system in their classroom, and act on feedback from their students, teachers are proven to better understand their students’ strengths and weaknesses in the classroom. Teachers will also be able to identify the effectiveness of their teaching strategies. As teachers learn and seek growth through helpful, professional development, their student assessments will come back with higher scores, and their students will see organized academic improvement.


Mulvahill, Elizabeth. We are Teachers, “15 Ways to Check for Understanding,”

Renard, Lucie. Book Widgets, “How to monitor your students’ learning progress: BookWidgets

Lambert, K. “Formative Assessment,” “Tools for Formative Assessment - Techniques to Check for Understanding - Processing Activities,” https://www.utwente.nl/en/examination/faq-testing-assessment/60formativeassessment.pdf.

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