The Dangers of Assuming and Not Truly Knowing

By on November 29, 2016

I never learn. Before I left on Thanksgiving break, I had my students mark an argument. I wanted them to underline claims in the text and bracket evidence. From what I could see, my students nailed it! They were all engaged. They were all drawing underlines and placing brackets around textual material. I was so happy and ready for break. 

During the break, I decided to work one day. You know how that goes. One day out of seven isn't bad. I used that day to catch up and to create an assessment. I wanted to see what my students had marked and was not interested in bringing home 130 articles to grade. I used the same text that they had read before break and created seven questions. Here are the questions and their results.

I was shocked. My plan was to move as soon as we got back from break. We weren't going to move on from argument (students need lots of practice), but I was ready to say they did a nice job identifying the claims and evidence. How did I know? What evidence did I have to support the idea that my students had marked well? I assumed my students did well simply by how compliant they were. They completed the task and did what I had asked them to do. I was feeling good. Unfortunately, their test results tell a different story. 

Don't gasp. I know the scores are bad. We are going to work on it.

The dangers of assuming is that the truth is somewhere very far from what you might think. I had assumed (and I had visual confirmation) that my students were doing well with underlining claims and bracketing evidence. Then, I tested them.


  1. Never assume
  2. Give small assessments to see what students know and still need to learn
  3. Let a computer do all the work

The silver lining in all of this is that I now have a pathway that I can follow for the next three weeks. I know what my students didn't know thanks to the Marking Tool in LiteracyTA's assessment tool. As a result, I know what I need to teach. Because students digitally marked their texts, I can see what they think is a claim. I can better understand their knowledge of evidence. A multiple choice test can't give me this type of information.

Today, I am going to work with data I can use to drive my instruction. I know exactly what I need to teach. The days of "covering" are over. Remember, we assume they get it...but do they? And how do you know?

LiteracyTA's assessment tool is available in the LTA Classroom through the LTA Toolkit Pro.


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