Assessment is a method or tool that can be used to measure the acquisition of knowledge and skill of learners. The goal of assessment is to gather data about student progress and performance that validates evidence of meaningful learning of objectives, or what students are expected to know, understand, or be able to do at the conclusion of a lesson. Assessment can be used to gauge readiness, quantify progress, and even identify specific gaps or needs. Assessment data can be used to personalize learning, meeting the needs of both individual students and groups of learners.
Assessment can take different forms and lengths, ranging from pencil to paper, to digital and gamified, along with various other approaches of delivery and design. Subjectively speaking, a lengthy assessment might look like a test made up of many questions in various formats: multiple choice, true or false, and short or long-form essay questions. A short assessment might look like a single query on an exit ticket provided and collected at the conclusion of a lesson. Although they differ in length and form, each of these examples allows students to demonstrate what they've learned and provide a targeted snapshot of information confirming areas of mastery or concepts to revisit.
Grounded in best practice, assessment plays an essential role in supporting the educational success throughout the academic journey of students. But assessment is not just for academic subjects. Assessment is a powerful tool to support a foundation in faith for young disciples in religious education classrooms today.
Teachers and catechists can use data from different assessment types to inform instructional strategies that enhance outcomes and inspire engagement in the faith journey of young learners.
Formative assessment may be used to guide and monitor student growth and performance, providing them with actionable data to inform instructional strategy. Implementing formative assessment provides religious educators with feedback that can identify areas where students excel and are challenged. There is great value in using formative assessment as its ongoing nature supports action-oriented decision-making that may increase rigor, enhance engagement, and improve learner achievement.
Teachers and catechists may use summative assessment to evaluate the outcome of student learning after a unit or other predetermined set interval or checkpoint. Summative assessment should align with the learning objectives of the curriculum taught and may include graded tests or projects. Summative assessment is beneficial because it may provide valuable insight to religious educators by illuminating learning and instructional gaps based on trends in student performance.
Benchmark assessment may be used by Catholic school teachers and parish catechists to periodically evaluate areas of student strength and weakness that can be used to guide further instruction. This form of assessment is valuable in that it measures the progress students are making toward a particular goal over a specific period of time. Benchmark assessments may occur at the beginning, middle, and end of the school or faith formation year. Benchmark assessment provides professionals with valuable data, providing insight into areas to target remediation to increase student competency.
Religious educators may use cumulative assessment as an opportunity to revisit grade-level content from an assessment that previously occurred on an assessment that takes place at a later date and time. They may find cumulative assessment to be particularly valuable as multiple exposures to content may support retrieval and retention of faith formation concepts.
Assessment is a valuable tool that can support faith formation in the religious education classroom because the right kinds of assessment can strategically measure and guide students’ faith formation progress. The most useful assessments capture student data so that catechists and teachers can easily analyze reports on individuals or groups of students to see progress and address gaps in understanding through targeted instruction and strategic resources.
Informed by best practices, Catholic school teachers and parish catechists can implement meaningful and strategic formative and summative assessments in the religious education classroom to ensure that all disciples know the faith and are progressing in their faith formation journey.
When students know the faith, they are better able to defend, live and embody it. Informed by best practices, Catholic school teachers and parish catechists can implement meaningful and strategic formative and summative assessments in the religious education classroom to ensure that all disciples know the faith and are progressing in their faith formation journey.
With sound catechetical content and proven pedagogy, print or digital publisher-provided assessments can be used to incorporate summative assessment seamlessly. Sadlier’s new Full Access for We Believe and We Live Our Faith offers catechists and teachers a guided evaluation of religious knowledge and the progression of faith formation in students’ minds, spirits, and hearts. Full Access is aligned with the We Believe and We Live Our Faith catechetical programs and offers correlations to key national (including ACRE) and Archdiocesan frameworks.
Full Access for We Believe and We Live Our Faith helps teachers and catechists develop an integral plan to form a strong base of religious understanding for all students.
Step 1: Assess and Capture Data
Full Access for We Believe and We Live Our Faith allows catechists and teachers to assess students with interactive Benchmark Assessments at strategic points—at the beginning, middle, and end of year—to measure students’ faith formation against standards that best fit their program, including the NCEA ACRE assessment, Sophia ARC Assessment, and selected Archdiocesan standards. Data is captured and organized into several types of reports to provide insights into gaps in faith knowledge and next steps for catechesis.
Step 2: Analyze Data
Data is organized into reports, including Proficiency, Domain, Learning Groups, Growth, and Recommended Resources Reports. Each report type provides a unique picture of students’ faith knowledge and progress. Reports allow catechists and teachers to analyze student-level and class-level data and track progress toward faith formation standards.
Step 3: Develop an Action Plan
Full Access then identifies recommended resources across We Believe and We Live Our Faith, including on and off grade-level content, to individual or groups of students to meet their faith formation needs.
Step 4: Teach
Informed by data through clear reports and equipped with recommended resources, catechists and religious education teachers can then effectively teach students, addressing gaps in knowledge and ensuring that all disciples are progressing in their understanding of the Catholic faith.
Learn more about how Full Access for We Believe and We Live Our Faith strategically measures and guides students’ faith formation progress and their understanding of the Catholic faith.
National Catholic Educational Association > Our Assessments > ACRE. (n.d.). https://ncearise.org/Our-Assessments/ACRE