Teacher Interview: How do you assess students’ progress?

We live in a constant pursuit of something better–a well-paid job, a better wife, or at least a better results at school. Everything seems just a means to an end–we do something to achieve a certain goal in the future, and once we achieve it, we repeat the entire process again. And though it is a recipe for a life filled with worry, it is the way modern society functions nowadays.

Things aren’t much different in education. Parents, education administrators, and often also students expect one thing before anything else–progress. They want to leave the school each day a bit smarter, knowing something they have not known before. They want to grow during your lessons. No wonder your interviewers will actually ask you how you evaluate the progress of your students.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question. Remember though that your attitude is more important than anything else for the hiring panel. As long as they see that progressing with the students is one of your top priorities, and you will try your best with each student, they won’t mind your lack of experience of terminology…


7 sample answers to “How do you assess the progress of your students” interview question

  1. Regular testing is the best way to assess their progress. However, it is important to use different forms of tests, or have some variety in your testing, because some students may excel in reading and comprehension but struggle in writing, or in expressing their thoughts, for example. At the end of the day, weekly tests (short format) should also motivate the students to do their homework and practice regularly, which is only good for them. And they help us, the teachers, understand if we are doing a good job, or if we have to improve our teaching methods in order to achieve better results with the students.
  2. As a special education teacher, I advocate for an individual approach to each child. Everyone has some abilities and limitations. My goal as a teacher–or at least how perceive it, is to help each student to reach their full potential. For someone it can be winning national competition in Math, for others passing the exams and progressing to next grade is the ultimate prize. I always keep this on my mind. And since I work closely with my students, and keep a file for each one, it is not difficult for me to monitor their progress, even on a weekly basis.
  3. For me the most important thing is to get the feedback directly in the lesson. I am not one of those teachers who starts talking at the beginning of the lesson and never stops until the bell rings. On the contrary, I involve the students as much as I can, ensuring that they are getting it, and collecting their feedback regularly. As long as they are getting it and doing their homework, they are progressing, each at their own pace. Of course once in a while it is important to do some tests, to see where the class is standing. But in my opinion the most important thing is to focus on each lesson, give your best, and make sure that students understand what’s going on.
  4. This is my first job application, and I do not have experience with evaluating students’ progress yet. As I see it, however, we should do regular exams, for example on a monthly basis, covering the lessons from the previous weeks. Numbers do not lie. If students pass the test, it means that they are progressing in their education. And if they do not pass, we have to return to the drawing board and try to improve our teaching. Of course, you will always have a few students who won’t pass–that’s just how it goes, regardless of your effort. You always have best and worst students in the classroom. That’s something you have to accept as a teacher.
  5. Teaching French, the best way to evaluate a progress of a student is letting them talk. At the end of the day, that’s the primary goal of learning a language–to be able to lead a meaningful conversation with someone, to get around in a foreign country, to express yourself clearly. Hence for me conversation in French is the best test of how they are progressing.
  6. I have it easy as a PE teacher. If someone runs a mile in seven minutes at the start of the year and they manage to get it down to 6:15 towards the end of the year, we can measure quite accurately the progress they made. And the same applies to gymnastics, basketball drills, and everything else we do at school. In my opinion, measurement is the key. If we know how they did at the start of a year (or any other period), we can clearly say whether they achieved a progress or not towards the end of the year.
  7. In my opinion, everything starts with setting tangible goals. We need to know what we want to achieve with students. With each one of them to be precise. And we also need to understand the starting line–their level of a given ability. Once we know where we are, and where we want to be at the end of a semester, it is much easier to plan the lessons and milestones. And once we have some milestones (such as passing a certain exam at a certain time), it is easy to evaluate the progress of each student. As you can see, I have a methodical approach to the issue, because it really matters for me to achieve progress with my students. I want everyone to leave my classes feeling satisfied, knowing that they’ve actually improved over the year.

Job interview is not a school exam

It may be tempting to use a lot of terminology in your interview answers. Formative assessment, authentic assessment, curriculum based monitoring tests, you name it. And while it is fine to use these terms (as long as you know what they mean), you should be aware that some people from the hiring committee may actually not understand what you are talking about. You do not want to find yourself in such a position, do you?

Interview is not a school exam. If you decide to use terminology, make sure that people you talk to understand your vocabulary. Or you can avoid terminology altogether, describing in simple words what exactly you want to do with the students, in order to evaluate their progress. In many cases this is better than trying to impress the school principal with your vocabulary, and ending up misunderstood. Keep it on your mind and choose your words wisely…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky teacher interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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