Is Instant Assessment an Important Teaching Tool?

Conovate, a Web-based assessment tool for teachers, now in Beta, is the result of its founder's hope to give teachers a crucial missing tool: the ability to instantly see student progress.

Sylvain Niles, CEO of Conovate, wants to provide a way for teachers to instantly track, analyze, and report on student performance over time by skill and subject. The tool is free (click here to sign up for the Beta version and offer feedback).

The idea is to give teachers, parents, and students access to instant data, enabling educators to respond quickly to each students' strengths and stumbling blocks. Conovate also provides tools for teachers to build quizzes according to state and federal standards and share resources (such as quiz questions) with other teachers. "Our idea is to save as much time as we can," says Niles. "If teachers get maybe five minutes per student, they can spend that entire five minutes on the problems that student is having."

With some exceptions, he adds, "the traditional homework and quiz model is a highly manual process. With more training and time, a teacher might have the luxury to do more advanced analysis of how a student is doing," but most of the time, there just aren't enough hours in the school day to personalize the education process to this extent.


So how does Conovate help teachers do that? "Let's say Student One really gets what they're learning this week. If the teacher knows that almost right away from the feedback system, they can know that this student can move on to the next step. A teacher becomes more of a mentor and a guide, and a classroom becomes more of an environment for solving problems."

This type of platform can be helpful "especially in the younger grades," says Niles, "where one teacher is covering a ton of different subjects. This would allow students to excel in the subjects that they're really getting. The rest of the time, instead of doing repetitive homework on the stuff they get, they can take that time to focus on the subject they're not getting."

A lot of assessment platforms out there, says Niles, are targeted toward high-stakes testing. "They're not really adaptive and don't show the more meta-cognitive aspects. For instance, when students take one of our quizzes we’re going to pay attention to how long they take on each question" and will also always ask the student to reflect on his or her performance: "Now that you're done with the quiz, how did you feel you did? It's important to track self-confidence in different subjects."

Going forward, Conovate also aims to bridge the education and analytics communities by pairing teachers and education leaders with experts in the data and analytics fields, funding their research on best practices, and publishing that research on the site. The match makes sense: Having a digital platform quickly do the things that technology does best (collect data, crunch numbers, produce actionable results) saves time for what teachers do best (teach).