Assessment is a vast topic that is a continuing process that educators use to observe, gather, and evaluate evidence to determine what students have learned, as well as, making informed, and dependable decisions to enhance student learning. It encompasses a broad range of testing from nationwide accountability tests to everyday classroom observation and quizzes. In order to take control of what appears to be an excess use of testing, assessment should be looked upon as a tool for information. The more information we have about students, the more closely we can look at instructional strategies that are effective and which ones need to be modified.
There are two main types of assessments that I will be discussing, formal and informal. Informal assessments or in other words “assessment of learning”, are used to evaluate students during the learning process. Formal assessments are conducted as a tool to evaluate student’s completion of work or the final product. There are many advantages and disadvantages to these types of assessments techniques that I will be discussing for measuring student progress. I will begin by discussing two formal assessment types along with its advantages and disadvantages.
The first type of assessment that I would like to address would be the statewide-standardized test under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The statewide standardized test is considered a high-stakes test because of the important consequences it has on passing or failing the test. It mandates yearly testing for grades 3 through 8 and once in high school for reading and math. Science was recently added in the mix to test students at least once in elementary, middle and high school. The underlying principle for this type of testing was intended to reach great academic achievement for all students, especially those from lower socioeconomic classes.
Advantage #1 It ensures that no child—regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or status is trapped in a consistently low-performing school. If a school does not make adequate progress towards set standards, parents have the option of sending their children to a better performing school or are provided free tutoring. This assessment helps determine if the student is receiving high-quality education at different grade levels. Advantage #2 Teachers are held accountable. If a student is not advancing with one method of teaching, the teacher must use a different technique for a more favorable outcome.
They must use research-based methods of teaching. This high-stakes test determines how to use assessment results to plan effective instruction. Disadvantage #1 This statewide-standardized test does not recognize student growth. It does not offer a realistic picture of how a student or school is performing as a whole. The extent of what a student actually learned is not known. Students that start out at a disadvantage are not given recognition for progress in achievement. Disadvantage #2 Teaching to the test.
The growing concern with this high-stakes test is that it has become the curriculum and instruction has been narrowed to focus on results. Disadvantage #3 States set their own standards and can make tests unusually easy to compensate for inadequate student performance. The second type of formal assessment I would like to discuss is the aptitude test. It is a norm-reference test and is administered under timed testing conditions. It measures a student’s overall performance across a wide range of intellectual capabilities. These test are useful to determine the current level students are at and to adjust classroom curriculum accordingly.
Advantage #1 Aptitude tests are excellent predictors of future learning or performance. Advantage #2 Aptitude tests help students understand their own strengths and weaknesses. Advantage #3 Aptitude tests are useful tools for working with students with special needs because it can help teachers form realistic expectations of the student. Disadvantage #1 Since this is a multiple-choice type test, it does not allow for creativity or an alternative way of thinking. Disadvantage #2 Since this is a norm-reference test, students do not know how well they individually mastered the material.
They only know how well they did compared to other students. Informal assessments is an important tool for teachers to use to monitor students’ progress throughout the learning process. The first type of informal assessment I feel is crucial in monitoring student performance is observation. I feel this method would be valuable to use in my classroom because I can observe students immediate reaction to my instruction especially during a pair-share or group setting. As I walk around the classroom, I would document my assessment of students’ performance and then provide feedback.
As I observe and listen, it will allow me to know how many students remembered and processed the information given, as well as using it to solve problems. Advantage #2 As I observe and listen, it can help me to immediately clarify any confusion and address the problem. Disadvantage #1 Not all students may be verbally participating at the time of observation. Disadvantage #2 Some students become nervous when being observed, and their performance may suffer. A second type of informal assessment that I would use in the classroom would be student portfolios. Through the portfolio process, students develop goal-setting and self-directed learning techniques.
It helps students value themselves as learners. It also allows students to compete with themselves rather than with other students. Advantage #1 Students can plan and manage their own time to complete their work. This can benefit the students by teaching them responsibility for their own learning goals. Advantage #2 Students know their own strengths and weaknesses as they assess and analyze their progress. Disadvantage #1 Portfolios take a lot of planning and organization. Gathering all the information can make it difficult to manage.
Disadvantage #2 Evaluating and scoring a student’s portfolio evolves a wide range of subjective evaluation procedures, which can limit reliability. A third method of informal assessment is through student oral presentation. This technique provides the student an opportunity to present information through verbal means in lieu of a written form. It allows the student to show their knowledge on a particular subject. To assess this type of method I would use a rating scale to grade student performance. It is very important to use a detailed rating scale for students to know the aspects of the presentation that are to be considered in the assessment.
Advantage #1 This method of assessment is instant and immediate in the transmission of information. Feedback can be given instantly. Advantage #2 Oral presentations provide maximum preparation. This can allow the students to practice to achieve perfection. Disadvantage #1 Some students are timid and more introverted than others. Oral presentations can be very intimidating and nerve-racking. Disadvantage #2 English language learners or those students who have a disability might affect their ability to speak fluently.
Disadvantage #3 Students might find it easier to organize information through written communication. The final informal assessment method I would use would be pop quizzes. This type of assessment is usually quick, given without prior warning and can be completed in 15 minutes or less. Teachers can use this method to determine if students have grasped recent information. Advantage #1 Allow students to build on previous information and strengthens concepts which may have been unclear to them. Advantage #2 It is a great way to reinforce material that may be covered on a standardized type assessment test.
It does not allow for accommodation for those students who need extended time on examinations, tests and quizzes. It can cause undo stress for those students. Disadvantage #2 It doesn’t really tell the true picture of a student’s level of knowledge. Some students may be lucky enough to guess the majority of the questions correctly. Having a mixture of written and oral types of informal assessments services a wide range of students. It allows the teacher to evaluate and recognize student’s learning needs and determine the appropriate level and pace of workflow. It offers the students the best chance to excel in one or more formats.