How to Assess Students Online

After distance learning, you may be wondering how you’ll know where your learners are at when it comes to meeting standards. There may be a noticeable gap or the typical “summer slide.” However, there are tools you can use to accurately assess students online (especially if you start the school year online!) at the beginning of the school year. 

If you have to teach a hybrid model or teach distance learning, assessment may be a major concern. This post helps you figure out how to assess students online and provides practical tips to get started!

Use Google Forms to Assess Students Online

Using Google Forms to formatively assess students gives you much needed data. Forms can be used for virtually any subject. 

Google Forms gives several options for types of questions included.

  • Short Answer
  • Paragraph
  • Multiple Choice
  • Checkboxes
  • Dropdown
  • File Upload
  • Linear Scale
  • Multiple Choice Grid
  • Checkbox Grid

All of these forms are ways you can quickly gather data and assess student learning. After creating a Google Form with your assessment questions, you can simply share it to Google Classroom. (Forms can also be created directly in Classroom.) Before sharing the assessment, make sure you have it set up as a quiz. Simply go under “Settings” (the cog wheel), and select “Quizzes”. You’ll want to make sure you select “Make this a Quiz”. In addition, you have options to release scores immediately or at a later time. You can also choose whether or not students see missed questions, correct answers, and point values.

Once students submit the assessment, you can see all the data in one spot! Go to the Responses tab, and create a spreadsheet. This is the green icon in the upper right-hand corner.

In addition, you can also see a summary of the responses, responses by question, and responses by individual students. I love using the summary to see the percentage of students that got specific questions correct or incorrect. This helps you know where to focus your reteaching.

MAP Testing

If your district subscribes to NWEA’s Measure of Academic Progress testing, your students may take this progress monitoring assessment several times a year. If your school is continuing with distance learning, NWEA and MAP have released a statement that they are making testing available for remote learning.

What does MAP data tell you?

Students can take MAP tests in Reading, Language, Math, and Science. Results from the MAP test are some of the most comprehensive data you’ll find with a testing platform. Students receive RIT (Rausch UnIT) scores. This score tells you what the students are ready to learn. MAP questions reflect what students will see on state and common core tests.

The data will also group students by RIT scores so you can also group students as needed. If your student uses MAP, definitely utilize the reports to help inform your instruction. MAP offers professional learning resources online to help decipher the data on the reports. 

Parent (Over) Involvement

One of the big concerns during online learning was authenticity of learning for students. Many teachers asked me, “How do I know if my student was doing the work or if their parents were doing it for them?”

Here are some ways to help solve this parent over-involvement problem:

Deemphasize grading while emphasizing learning.

Because of the inequity in technology, it’s hard to imagine a situation where it’s fair to give students a percentage or letter grade during online learning. Whether or not your district or school requires letter grades, share with parents that the assignments and assessments are really about the learning, not the grade.

By getting a true picture of what your students know and are able to do, you’re able to plan instruction (online or offline) to best meet your students’ needs.

Be upfront with parents about this. You’re not accusing anyone of “cheating”; you’re simply sharing that parents can help with work, but your ultimate goal is to know where the students are academically.

Video assessments

Try assessing some skills via video. Have your students present via Flipgrid, for example. Students can share their science experiment results. You can measure fluency as your students read aloud. For Math, you can have students work out a problem on paper or screen so you can see their process.

If you’re going to use a video assessment or assignment, start by having your students do something easy and fun to get used to the technology tool. For example, when you create a Flipgrid grid, the first topic is automatically an introduction topic. Have your students share something about themselves. You have the added bonus of getting to know your kids better while showing them a new tech tool!

These ways to assess students online will help you during distance learning and your transition back to the classroom. Communicate early and often with parents on how online student assessments will work, and you’ll have all the data you need to inform instruction and have a great year!


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