Student voices have power. Establishing a classroom culture that values the student voice can help teachers tailor an instructional approach to engage students and meet their learning needs. This shift, from the role of students as passive recipients to students as invested partners in learning, also requires a shift in how we know and measure what our students are learning. When student voices on assessment are encouraged and heard, you can cultivate a culture of student voice and ensure that your assessment practices are aligned to your instructional approach.
Educators have long known that high-quality assessments are of real value, particularly when they are used to support student learning. However, students are rarely, if ever, involved in the assessment process. Findings from the NWEA Make Assessment Matter study revealed that students want a voice on assessments and on their education. The research found that:
- Students are knowledgeable, thoughtful and frank about different kinds of tests—and their test-taking experiences and preferences—and they want to join the conversation about assessment changes.
- At a minimum, students want to be informed about coming changes in standards and accountability assessments.
- Students know what they want from their teachers and from tests—and they have a greater grasp of how assessment can serve them than teachers give them credit for. There is a gap between what students and teachers believe about the role of assessment.
Giving students voice and choice in assessments is empowering, and it encourages students to think critically about their learning goals and objectives. Students are likely to take responsibility for their own assessment and self-evaluation when their voices are an integral piece of the assessment process.
The following questions can be used as a starting point to begin accessing student voices on assessment in your classroom:
- How important are tests for understanding what you are learning?
- What are the components of well-written test?
- Describe a test you’ve taken that was both challenging and fair.
- When you complete a test, are you often correct on how you thought you performed?
- Why do you think you need to take tests during class?
- How much do you care about doing well on tests?
- Do you feel you understand what you’re supposed to be learning?
- How do you know when you’ve learned something?
- In what ways do you like to show what you know or have learned?
What are your students’ voices on assessment? Share a student response or quote below.