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Assessment Experts Reveal Essential Practices for Improving Student Education

Research shows that formative assessment and feedback are essential parts of improving student achievement. In Instructional Agility, published by Solution Tree, authors Cassandra Erkens, Tom Schimmer and Nicole Dimich Vagle empower readers to become instructionally agile—moving seamlessly among instruction, formative assessment and feedback—to enhance student engagement, proficiency and ownership of learning.

“Teaching without assessment is not teaching; it is delivering information or creating random, haphazard activities,” explain Erkens, Schimmer and Vagle in the book’s introduction. “It is only through assessment that teachers can discern the discrepancy between a student’s current understanding and the desirable performance level; it is only through assessment that teachers know what comes next for each student.”

In the resource, the authors show educators how to:

  • Support learning by engendering hope, building efficacy and increasing achievement for students.
  • Guarantee high levels of success for each and every student.
  • Remain instructionally agile at all times, responding to the emerging evidence and teaching in precise yet flexible ways.

Each chapter concludes with Pause and Ponder questions that individual teachers and teams can answer to contemplate what they learned, as well as their next steps for implementing strategies for instructional agility.

Natalie Romero, director of instructional support at Moriarty-Edgewood School District in New Mexico, highly recommends the title, stating, “From planning to feedback, the authors provide clear, practical strategies for the most critical aspects in today’s classrooms—using assessment to inform instruction on a day-to-day basis. This book is a must-read for teams looking to strengthen assessment and instruction and to engage students in their own learning.”

Instructional Agility is now available to order at

About the Author

Cassandra Erkens is a presenter, facilitator, coach, trainer of trainers, keynote speaker, author and above all, a teacher. She presents nationally and internationally on assessment, instruction, school improvement and professional learning communities.

Tom Schimmer is an author and a speaker with expertise in assessment, grading, leadership and behavioral support. Tom is a former district-level leader, school administrator and teacher. As a district-level leader, he was a member of the senior management team responsible for overseeing the efforts to support and build the instructional and assessment capacities of teachers and administrators.

Nicole Dimich Vagle has a passion for education and lifelong learning, which has led her to extensively explore, facilitate and implement innovative practices in school transformation. She works with elementary and secondary educators in presentations, trainings and consultations that address today’s most critical issues all in the spirit of facilitating increased student learning and confidence.

About Solution Tree

For nearly 20 years, Solution Tree ( has worked to transform education worldwide, empowering educators to raise student achievement. With more than 30,000 educators attending professional learning events and more than 4,260 professional development days in schools each year, Solution Tree helps teachers and administrators confront essential challenges in schools. Solution Tree has a catalog of 515 titles, hundreds of videos and online courses and is the creator of Global PD, an online tool that facilitates the work of professional learning communities. Follow @SolutionTree on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Teaching & Learning