“Assessment practises have a powerful impact on learning and teaching” (Curriculum Council of Western Australia, 2004, p. 37). For teachers the focus is on the use of assessment results; how they use those results to inform instructional decision making and whether they provide results that verify students have indeed met the learning targets originally set.
Thus, judgements are made about the quality of assessments after the students’ performance. ‘High-quality’ assessments encompass a number of criteria’s and involve a great deal more than simply measuring knowledge (McMillan, 2011) and are outlined below in seven key areas.
1. Clear Purpose – The first decision is clarify the purpose for the assessment. Why is the assessment taking place? What is to be gained from it? Will the teacher be using formative techniques to monitor student progress or will the teacher use summative techniques to establish grades (Chappuis, Chappuis, & Stiggins, 2009)? “Knowing the reason for the assessment is crucial because this will determine what the assessment should look like, how it is administered and scored, and how the results will be used (McMillan, 2011, p.10)”.
2. Defined Learning Targets –Are they reasonable and do they ‘align’ with the state standards, student characteristics and overall goals (McMillan, 2011)? Learning targets need to be clear and understandable to everyone (Chappuis, Chappuis, & Stiggins, 2009). Learning targets are important as they define expectations. 3. Assessment Methods – The assessment methods, using either selected or constructed responses, need to align with the chosen learning targets (McMillan, 2011).
“Selecting an assessment method that is incapable of reflecting the intended learning will compromise the accuracy of the results” (Chappuis, Chappuis, & Stiggins, 2009). These also need to practical and efficient so as not to be too time consuming on lessons. 4. Fairness – Fair assessments are unbiased without the influence of discrimination or subjective factors (McMillan, 2011). “All students should have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their achievement” (Curriculum Council of Western Australia, 2004, p. 38).
5.Validity & Reliability – Judgements should be based on all information and multiple measures that authenticate the conclusion (Curriculum Council of Western Australia, 2004). The assessment is useless unless the inference is appropriate, useful, reasonable and consistent (McMillan, 2011). 6. Criteria – Outlining criteria contributes to students’ learning by making clear the outcomes or goals they are striving for (Curriculum Council of Western Australia, 2004). “The issue of how student responses will be evaluated lies at the heart of any type of assessment” (McMillan, 2011, p.35).
7. Feedback – Feedback should be clear and constructive. Feedback by both by the teacher and self-assessment allows students to take responsibility for their learning and helps students “identify how they can improve their learning” (Killen, 2005, p. 98) and ensure motivation is high through positive consequences. By ensuring the lessons have a clear purpose, are well planned and allow all students’ to demonstrate their achievements through a fair, valid and reliable process, learning and teaching is improved and achievement is enhanced.
“High quality assessments have consequences that will be positive for both students and yourself” (McMillan, 2011, p. 86). References Chappuis, S. , Chappuis, J. , & Stiggins, R. (2009). The Quest for Quality. Multiple Measures , 67 (3), 14-19. Curriculum Council of Western Australia. (2004). Curriculum Framework. Osborne Park: W. A. Killen, R. (2005). Programming and assessment for quality teaching and learning. South Thompson: Cengage. McMillan, J. H. (2011). Classroom Assessment: Principles and Practice for Effective Standards – Based Instruction (Fifth ed. ). Boston: Pearson.