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The old saying goes: “You can’t fatten a cow by weighing it at market”. Now, I haven’t spent much time raising heifers but certainly I understand that by the time you get to market, any technique you could have used to fatten the poor gal is moot. Why are we not applying the same lesson when it comes to assessing students and athletes? Formative Assessments in Youth Sports…
Students in K-12 education are tested constantly throughout their school careers via federally mandated standardized testing programs. This tidal wave of testing is supposed to inform teaching and improve student learning. However, assessments used at the end of the learning process are as worthless as weighing a cow at market. It’s just too late in the process to affect learning outcomes. The Better Paradigm: Formative Assessment is an approach where educators and coaches use ongoing assessments throughout the learning process to gather real-time information on the kids and maximize timely feedback to enhance learning, not make summative judgments. The information gained from the formative assessments, and the frequent feedback given to students, maximizes skills and leads to improvement.
Coaches and sports parents take notice. There is increasing pressure in youth sports, at the earliest years, to make summative judgments about children to determine “who has it” and those that don’t. However, children need Formative Assessments where coaches gather objective performance data throughout the season, share it with parents and children regularly, and create learning progressions for growth. This applies to every athlete, at every skill level and every age. It’s time to change the paradigm to one of coaching for growth via Formative Assessments and frequent feedback.
Christopher Tienken Ed.D is an Associate Professor of Education Leadership, Management, and Policy and specializes in curriculum and assessment issues at the state, national, and international levels.
Follow on Twitter @christienken