Assessment Opinion

Exit Tickets: Too Little, Too Late

By David Ginsburg — June 30, 2015 1 min read
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Many teachers use exit tickets to assess student learning, as described by The Teacher Toolkit:

Before students leave, they have to hand you a “ticket” filled out with an answer to a question, a solution to a problem, or a response to what they’ve learned. Exit Tickets help you assess if students have “caught what you taught” and plan for the next lesson or unit of instruction.

Using exit tickets for this purpose may seem effective, but students’ responses to one question often give an incomplete picture of their learning. And even when exit tickets do provide adequate assessment information, this information arrives too late. Too late to prevent students from making the same mistakes on homework that they made during class. Too late to have students share ideas or strategies that the rest of the class could have learned from. Too late to support students who were unengaged. And too late to stretch students who were ready for more challenging work.

Teachers need to assess students as they’re learning, not as they’re leaving. Keys to such ongoing, real-time assessment include:

  • providing student-centered tasks rather than teacher-centered talks (You Do, We Do, I Do rather than I Do, We Do, You Do)
  • using perpetual proximity, with a commitment to assessing students before assisting them;
  • cultivating self-reliance and collaboration among students by establishing a hierarchy of help; and
  • responding to ongoing assessment information efficiently (e.g., addressing common confusion once with the class as a whole rather than multiple times with individual students/groups).

Do these things, and you won’t need exit tickets to know whether students “caught what you taught.” You’ll always know what students have or haven’t learned, and be able to give them timely, targeted feedback as a result.

And by not having to use exit tickets to assess student learning, you can use them for more productive purposes such as engaging students in self-reflection, soliciting feedback from students about your (really their) classroom, and pre-assessing students on an upcoming topic.

Image by Arne9001, provided by Dreamstime license

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The opinions expressed in Coach G’s Teaching Tips are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.