Student Self-Assessment

A fundamental element of standards-based instruction is student self-assessment. The research shows that when students know what they need to learn and they can monitor themselves they are more motivated to learn and they learn more effectively.

When students rely on the teacher to tell them how they are doing they are not critical thinkers and they are not developing the foundation they need for independent learning. While standards always present some limitations for students the process of self-assessment can enable students to take control of their learning and learn beyond the standards in ways that are important to them.

In order to evaluate their own work, students need a clear target for what they are learning and a description of the criteria for quality work (our standards rubrics with success criteria & Danielson’s criteria in 3d). They need to participate in defining the criteria. Then they need feedback from themselves, peers, and the teacher, followed by the opportunity to self-adjust their work before the teacher/student does the final evaluation.

At the heart of self-assessment, students can identify what they are doing well and where they need to improve, they can set goals for themselves, and then make plans for improvement. This is complex work and it is not something that can be left to chance or done now and then in a lesson. It has to be built into the structural design of all instruction so students can learn the skills needed to take control of their learning.

We know that successful students can do this—they can figure out what the teacher wants. But most students do not. As you engage in conversations about standards-based teaching think about what you need to do to make self-assessment alive in your literacy or math workshops.

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