Informal. Formal. Summative. Formative.
Assessments are powerful educational tools, and we use them so frequently. Nevertheless, teachers receive very little education about or training in effective, valid assessment practices.
Teacher education programs could certainly include more about assessments, but classroom experiences with them provide valuable knowledge that theory never will. Therefore, a greater conversation about assessment that is led by experienced teacher leaders would be much more effective. Instead of slapping together a vocabulary quiz or apathetically administering a common test, we could become much more deliberate about how we use assessments to guide our teaching practices.
Some questions to explore: How does student motivation affect assessment validity? Are quizzes and tests merely viewed by students as one-time "gotcha" exercises? And if so, how limited is their effectiveness? What if standardized tests are poorly designed? How well do teachers understand the practical benefits of formative assessment? How do we encourage less confident teachers not to be nervous about formative assessment results? How much thought have administrators given to the validity of the assessments by which they are evaluating their teachers?
Asking questions is a great place to start. Most of us haven't given much thought to this topic even though it is probably the one teaching method that we all use and that we use on a more regular basis than any other.