Let’s Assess the Situation

Assessing students’ learning is sometimes one of the hardest things to do as a teacher, and most often it is one of the things that students dread the most. Students who have test anxiety, or simply can’t think under pressure, often have to deal with poor test grades and the image that gives them in the eye of the school district.

In The Science Teacher, a journal published by the NSTA, an article called “A Beginning, Present, and Future Connected by the Need for Science Education” mentioned that the goal of the NSTA was to, “promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.” One of the most fundamental ways to transform science teaching is to transform science assessing. Here are a few ways that we as teachers can assess our students in ways that are fair and equitable!


Old fashioned and over used. There is a lot of information that a test just simply cannot measure. Sure, you can get a rough idea of whether or not a student can regurgitate information back to you in the form of bubbling in an answer, but there is very little higher-order thinking with this one. Even essay questions often ask students to describe a memorized process or explain a phenomenon in their own words.

Image result for tri fold

Trifold/Science Fairs

Now this is fun! Having students research a topic and present it to the rest of the class, especially if they make something that goes along with it (I’m looking at you, 4th grade volcano projects) allows for the students to get engaged with what they’re learning. Applicable assessment is good assessment!

Image result for science board games

Board Games

Unconventional, I’ll admit, but having students create a board game that revolves around a topic is a great way to assess how well a student understands the content. If they’re able to create a game that follows along with a concept, then they more than likely understand the concept on a deeper level! Plus, kids love board games!

Here is a link to a video about using games as formative assessment!


Rubrics are the backbone for any good assessment, and making one can sometimes be difficult. Here is one for a brochure that could be applicable to any concept or topic:

Image result for science tri-fold rubric

Accommodations for ELL students

ELL students can have a hard time with language-based assessment, depending on what level they are. For those that are in the lower levels and aren’t as proficient in English, I would make sure that guidelines are written clearly and concisely, and show them examples of what I am looking for with each category of the rubric. The goal here is to gauge how much they know about a concept, not how much English they understand!

Accommodations for students with Hearing Impairments

Since a lot of the rubric is written, I would provide students who are HOH/Deaf with a transcript of any extra points that I would be making during the introduction of the assessment. I would also expect presentations to be done clearly, so that all students are able to hear as much as possible.


  1. Bryce,

    Amazing post! You really dove deep into this blog. One of my favorite aspects was the trifold idea! It reminds me of the good ole days in elementary and middle school during science fairs. It allows students to accurately and creatively display their knowledge. In your opinion, would it be more difficult to assess student’s work on trifolds rather than tests?


  2. Great blog! I totally agree that tests are overused and old fashioned. I really like the idea of the tri-fold board. Even if the student isn’t doing a traditional “science fair” type project, they could still put a lot of useful information on the board and it could very clearly show their level of understanding. With this idea, however, do you have any way to help make sure that a student’s parents don’t do the whole project for them at home? Again, great post!

  3. Bryce, I really enjoyed the title of your blog. It is really catchy and creative. I also liked how you described the different types of assessment and how you described test as old fashioned and over used because that is spot on. The images that you used really brought some life into this blog. I really enjoyed your tweet as well! Which type of assessment is your favorite and why? Overall great post!

  4. Hello Bryce,
    Great post! I like how you discuss various different options for assessment! I particularly like the board game idea because it is pretty obvious that in a class of 8th graders, board games are a great option! I never thought about board games much, but they can really allow students to not only show what they know, but also remember what they learned. I also think the tri-fold science project is a good idea, but there needs to be much guidance on the project and what you are looking for. Some kids do not like doing the projects, so make it interesting by letting them pick the topic and also show things the way that they choose to! Otherwise, great job! I like your accommodations as well, they seem fair and equitable. Lastly, I like your tweet and I retweet it. I agree that there are better ways to assess and creativity is key! Are there any other ways that you have thought of and did you use these ideas from Dr. Ann’s list because they are great! My next question is, what about a person with autism, how would you accommodate them? Just curious. Awesome post!

    Delaina 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.