what is the best way to report back to learners on assessment
There is no single best assessment tool or strategy. What works well in one situation may not work well in a different situation. There are too many variables that affect where, when, and how a particular assessment should be used. Those variables can be anything: the subject content, the number of students in a class, the age of the learners, the type of learners that are present, etc. This means that the "best" assessment strategy is the one that works best for a given situation and/or scenario. Formative assessments are great because they give students ongoing feedback on their learning throughout the learning process. Students are able to make adjustments as they go; however, that kind of assessment gets more and more difficult as a class gets larger. A teacher simply can't get to every student each period if the class is 38 students large and the period is 43 minutes long (personal experience). A summative assessment can have great value. It does a nice job of showing an educator how well a learner(s) has understood an entire body of content over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, summative assessments provide mainly hindsight. By the time the student takes the test/exam, there is very little opportunity for the teacher to make corrections to student learning. A teacher may have to go back and reteach content based on a class that did poorly on this kind of assessment.
Regardless of the type of assessment used, it is critical that the educator gives the assessment to the student sooner rather than later. More immediate feedback allows the student to make learning and understanding adjustments while the content is still fresh. Written feedback is a solid way of giving feedback to a student because that student can examine the feedback multiple times; however, verbal feedback is sometimes better because it is a quicker and more efficient way of giving the feedback during a period.
Formative assessments can be done many times during a lesson and provide the teacher with crucial information. It's important for the student to know that they are meeting the objective of the lesson and for them to be able to ask relevant questions. Students can benefit from various forms of group feedback as well as simple thumbs up and thumbs down strategy.
Once students share their understanding, it's the responsibility of the teacher to then use that information to either review or move ahead. The goal of learning is to understand the information and to be able to explain how you arrived at that answer. Learners need to be able to get valuable feedback not only from their teacher, but from themselves as well. Alternative assessments, especially those using creative techniques provide useful, effective feedback.
Children of all ages can benefit from tracking their own learning through graphing, computer apps and constructive written feedback. Individualizing and promoting positive feedback is the best way to help learners grow. When assessments are used consistently and effectively, then both the teacher and the student benefit.