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Assessments vs. Tests

I will admit it... I love assessments.  Don't misunderstand me... I hate tests.  To me, there is a difference.  An assessment is ongoing, can be both formative and summative, influences instruction, and can provide crucial information to teachers and students about learning.  Assessments come in many forms, but, above all, must be appropriate to the student if they are to be useful. 
I love helping my students chart their growth through ongoing assessments.
But, it frustrates me to no end to watch my Kindergarten students take tests. 
Tests are top-secret, streamlined, often computer-based probes that provide quick numerical values that can be assigned to students (and teachers for that matter) for pages of disaggregated data that is supposed to be used to completely overhaul instruction.  Unfortunately, tests are a neccessary evil in 21st Century education. 
So, how do we turn tests into assessments? 
Take away the secrecy and teach students how to use the testing tool to show what they know!
No student is too young to start solving the test mystery.  In my Kindergarten classroom I believe in unveiling tests as soon as possible... not teaching to the test, but teaching how to test.  In light of that I started to create weekly Kindergarten extended response questions to supplement and assess my standards-based math instruction.  This week, I am working to update my TPT store to include these extended response questions.  Click to view one of the freebies at 21st Century K!

The Kindergarten standards for Geometry are very rigorous.  This assessment requires analyzing and comparing.

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