What is an Assessment? As I ask myself this question, memories from my educational experience pass through my mind. I am forced to recall many tests, quizzes and fear that have embedded my mind with a horrific sense of anxiety. The fear, I believe, is the cause of the thought that I may not excel in the lesson that I had been taught. Then I ask myself, is that what an assessment was meant to accomplish? Through my readings, I have learned that an assessment is an educational process that requires documentation of knowledge that a student has received from a lesson.
The documentation of the assessment can be based on the individual student or the class as a whole. Assessments are a collection of data in order to improve upon the educational development of a learner. Assessments also help improve the learning standards and benchmarks within the classroom. This practice will allow me, as a teacher, to improve my teaching ability and evolve as a better educator. I have also learned, through my readings, what an assessment is not. An assessment is not an end goal that determines a student’s educational worth in a subject area.
Assessments are not the only data that is used in evaluating the progress of a student in a particular program of study. The process of assessing students’ progress is only useless when the evaluation is done poorly. If this practice does not reflect goals and values of particular disciplines, the assessment should be reevaluated. There are two main categories of assessment: summative and formative. Summative assessments are used to evaluate how effective an instructional program has been to student. This assessment is typically given at the end of a particular lesson, unit or academic year.
Summative assessments are used to make a judgment of the competency of a student after a particular lesson has been completed. This evaluation is issued to determine if a learner has mastered a specific standard or benchmark. It is also administered in order to identify areas of instruction that may need additional attention or modification. Such assessments are given in the form of standardized test that typically have a single score. Summative assessments are typically a good evaluation for educators and school systems, however; such data does not individually reflect the misunderstandings that may hinder a learner’s potential evolvement.
Formative assessment is used to improve instructional methods and student feedback throughout the teaching and learning process. Formative evaluations are performed in a gradual, step-by-step procedure in order to observe a student’s grasp of a concept. This process is demonstrated by on-going assessments, as well as, reviews and observations in the classroom setting. Through an educators observations, the teacher can reconstruct the instructional strategy sooner rather than later, in order to insure the validation on the lesson.
Formative assessments may be administered in the form of quizzes or performance tasks in the classroom. Assessing a learner formatively allows for more retention of the instructional material, and a better grasp on building upon that material. Assessment expectations desired by instructors are the effectiveness of the outcome. I think that a teacher should strive for every student’s ability. In reaching this goal, instructors must set realistic expectations for the students that one may teach. In setting goals for the students, students must have a clear understanding of what is expected of the instruction and lessons.
I believe that each expectation that is set for a student should resemble that particular child’s ability and need. Each expectation should be a reflection of a student’s prior knowledge and the instructional connection between concept and practice. Exercising realistic expectations within the classroom can be easily established through the purposes of assessments. Instructors give assessments to students to identify areas of weakness which can result in the determination to give better teaching instruction.
There are four purposes for assessment of students: Monitoring student progress, making instructional decisions, evaluating student achievement and evaluating progress. The first purpose of assessment is monitoring student progress. After setting realistic expectations, data should be compiled to give the student and instructor feedback about the progression of the expectations that were set. This assessment purpose is a continual process that may result in formal or informal data. This data, however; can lead to the individual progression of each student.
The second purpose for assessment is making instructional decisions. Instructors will use collected data of students’ understanding to modify teaching processes in order to give better instruction to the student. In order for the teacher to modify the instructional tasks for a student, the teacher will observe the student. This observation will allow the instructor to understand the way the particular student thinks and applies instruction; therefore, making the instruction fit the child, rather than fitting the child to the instruction.
The third purpose for assessment is evaluating student achievement. In evaluating a student’s achievement, an instructor will examine the student and make an informed judgment on the progress the student is obtaining. The judgment is based on the abilities of that certain student rather than in comparison to other students in the class. This allows the student to receive a more individualized evaluation that reflects on the goals that are set for him or her. The fourth purpose for assessment is evaluating programs.
This assessment is a compiled evaluation of the class, as a whole, in order to make modifications to the instruction given to the students. These modifications will allow students to, not only set high expectations, but meet high expectations as well. It is my opinion that changes in assessments need to develop in order to keep such evaluations in line with reform efforts. Some of the assessments that are used today seem dated and may not give correct validation of a student’s understanding. Assessing a student’s educational potential is a group effort for all that are involved in the education of a child.
Assessments for observing students’ education, making instructional judgments, and evaluating a student’s achievements have been in the hands of classroom teachers, whereas assessments for gaging programs have been supported by agencies outside the classroom. I believe that assessments for all purposes need to be more vulnerable and mutual; meaning, instructors should be involved in the assessment process for all purposes. The primary responsibility for assessment must be a shared effort if it is to meet the needs of today’s students.