Formative Assessment Strategies that Improve Distance Learning Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

Assessment Learning Network, April 21, 2021


The 2020-21 ALN sessions will explore implications for teaching and assessing in virtual environments. As educators and students embrace the responsibility to impact learning in new distance, virtual, and hybrid environments necessitated by COVID-19 pandemic, we will amplify and enhance what we know about good assessment practice and its ability to support learning.

If we aren’t careful, distance learning can add a layer of obfuscation that makes it hard for  students to orient to what they are learning. When students lack intention, feedback can appear to be just lists and directions to follow. The formative assessment process can be used to improve learning for all students, and it is particularly important for students with disabilities. Formative assessment focuses students on learning and evidence of learning. It has the potential to be a powerful antidote to the “check-box” approach some students may bring to distance learning.

This ALN session will examine the use of formative assessment practices with students with disabilities during distance learning. We will examine this issue through the lens of the learning cycle that asks: Where am I going? Where am I now and Where to next?  The session will focus on just five strategies recommended by Susan Brookhart as first steps to improve distance learning outcomes for students with disabilities.

Framing Questions

What about the formative assessment process works well to support the learning of students with disabilities?

What strategies are recommended for use in distance learning? How and why do these select strategies support the needs of students with disabilities?

What experiences are current practitioners who have employed these strategies having with their students? What advice or recommendations might they offer?

Event Resources

Presenter: Susan M. Brookhart

Susan M. Brookhart is an independent educational consultant and author based in Los Angeles, CA. She is professor Emerita in the School of Education at Duquesne University. She is co-author of 17 books and over 70 articles and book chapters on classroom assessment, teacher professional development and evaluation. In 2017, she and Sheryl Lazarus published Formative Assessment for Students with Disabilities, a monograph for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and in May 2020 she published Five Formative Assessment Strategies to Improve Distance Learning Outcomes for Students with Disabilities, NCEO Brief #20 for the National Center on Educational Outcomes.

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