Are some assessments embedded in the curriculum along the way, with advice to teachers as to how they might use the results to choose or modify activities?
Explanation. Assessments are used largely as instruments for grading students at the end of a unit or a course, not as diagnostic instruments that help determine learners' needs. This criterion highlights the need to refocus assessment to serve instruction.
Responding to this criterion involves examining whether the material goes beyond providing assessment tasks only at the end of a unit of study (to help judge student achievement) and provides tasks along the way to gauge student progress (in order to modify instruction). Ideally, the teacher's guide would include guidance to teachers about how to probe beyond students' initial responses to clarify and further understand student ideas. In addition, materials should suggest how teachers could use the information from the embedded assessments to make instructional decisions about what ideas need to be addressed by further activities with the whole group or smaller groups of students.
The difference between this criterion and the criterion "Assisting teacher in identifying own students' ideas" (see Category II) is that this criterion addresses the identification of student ideas after the scientific ideas have been taught, so that student progress can be monitored. The criterion "Assisting teacher in identifying own students' ideas" addresses whether the material encourages and helps teachers to identify students' ideas before the scientific ideas are introduced.
This criterion also overlaps with the criterion "Encouraging students to explain their ideas" (see Category V). Questions that probe understanding of student ideas after the idea has been introduced can serve two purposes: they can help students think through their ideas and help teachers assess student progress along the way.
Indicators of meeting the criterion
Some materials suggest that teachers will use all practice tasks included in the unit as embedded assessment (typically, these suggestions are made in the introduction to the teacher's guide). In these cases, reviewers need to examine these tasks (even if they were examined before in the "Providing practice" criterion of Category IV).