7 Assessment Strategies That Put Aside Paper and Pencil


Traditional Assessment

When you think of assessments, the traditional method is of course paper and pencil. And when you think of paper and pencil “testing,” you may think of the required countless hours of grading that inevitably follows. As a teacher, this is often one of the most challenging barriers to overcome when planning lessons that include frequent formative assessments.

However, how do we actually ensure that we are not only administering assessments but that we are actually collecting and using the data they provide to guide our instructional decisions, as well as monitor for student achievement? Because if we are really doing all of these things with traditional methods of assessment, then we are increasing the likelihood that we will suffer from burnout, or worse, fail to assess as frequently as we should because we are overwhelmed by the never-ending onslaught of papers that require immediate grading.

A Different Way

Collecting and monitoring student data does not have to be overwhelming. Technology can help make formative assessment a seamless part of daily instruction. There are many easy-to-use and classroom-friendly assessment tools available online that help make assessing students not only fast and effective but also engaging and fun.

Here are 7 examples to get you started:

  1. Socrative – Socrative is an app that increases student engagement by instantly connecting with students as the learning is happening. The app allows for prepared activities or quick questions to formatively assess student understanding.
  2. Kahoot! – Kahoot! Is a gameshow-style assessment tool that can be used to introduce new information, assess background knowledge, or formatively assess throughout a lesson. There are existing games that you can “borrow” from other users, or you can make your own from scratch.
  3. Padlet – Padlet is a collaborative software application that can be accessed by multiple users (like Google Docs) to make and share content. Padlet describes itself as “somewhere between a doc and a full-fledged website builder,” and allows students to collaboratively build anything from a bulletin board to a blog page to a portfolio.
  4. ActivePrompt – ActivePrompt is a new project, so be prepared to learn along with everyone else. It is a collaborative assessment tool that allows students to respond to discussion starters or answer quick questions uploaded by the teacher. Responses from the whole group can be viewed in one location, which can lead to further discussion about the accuracy of the responses.
  5. Plickers – Plickers is a mobile app that tracks student responses based on scanned cards, allowing for immediate data collection, but no need for students to download anything or log into a program. Only the teacher needs to the app, and students hold up cards for their responses, which quickly get scanned. Teachers can set up classes and rosters within the app, and save the data to track progress.
  6. Poll Everywhere – Poll Everywhere is an app that turns presentations into interactive conversations with students. It is an audience-response system that gathers questions and information from students to contribute to the learning experience in real-time.
  7. Google Forms – Google Forms is a user-friendly way to create online surveys and quizzes to send to students. Responses are gathered into a spreadsheet for easy viewing and data analysis.

Important Reminder

While using these types of online tools can greatly improve your ability to collect and monitor student data, it is always important to remember that the assessment must match the rigor of the standards or a specific learning goal. “Formative assessment is a process, not an assessment tool or instrument, which includes collecting information on student progress toward a learning goal” (Formative Assessment Tech Tools, 2016).

Looking for more ways to frequently assess student learning? Keep your eyes on Facebook and Twitter as we continue to share new, innovative, fun ways to engage students as we track their progress! For even more ideas, visit The Ultimate List — 65 Digital Tools and Apps to Support Formative Assessment Practices.

Don Marlett

Don has been an educator for 20+ years. Before joining Learning-Focused, he taught High School and Middle School Science and was a school administrator. Don has participated in school evaluations focused on implementing High Yield Strategies. In addition, he partnered with various state DOE to support leaders as well as present at numerous conferences hosted by multiple leadership organizations in Florida, NC, Ohio, WV, TN, and KY Don leads product development, provides leadership training and coaching, and coaches educators in the implementation of the High-Yield strategies.

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