What Is Assessment? Who Needs To Assess? Effects Of Traditional Tests Etc

1223 words - 5 pages

Assessment may be defined as "any method used to better understand the current knowledge that a student possesses." This implies that assessment can be as simple as a teacher's subjective judgment based on a single observation of student performance, or as complex as a five-hour standardized test. The idea of current knowledge implies that what a student knows is always changing and that we can make judgments about student achievement through comparisons over a period of time. Assessment may affect decisions about grades, advancement, placement, instructional needs, and curriculum.Purposes of AssessmentThe reasons why we assess vary considerably across many groups of people within the educational community.Who Needs To Assess? Purposes of AssessmentPolicymakers use assessment to: * Set standards * Focus on goals * Monitor the quality of education * Reward/sanction various practices * Formulate policies * Direct resources including personnel and money * Determine effects of testsAdministrators and school * Monitor program effectiveness planners use assessment to: * Identify program strengths and weaknesses * Designate program priorities * Assess alternatives * Plan and improve programsTeachers and administrators * Make grouping decisions use assessment to: * Perform individual diagnosis and prescription * Monitor student progress * Carry out curriculum evaluation and refinement * Provide mastery/promotion/grading and other feedback * Motivate students * Determine gradesParents and students use * Gauge student progress assessment to: * Assess student strengths and weaknesses * Determine school accountability * Make informed educational and career decisionsEffects of Traditional TestsBillions of dollars are spent each year on education, yet there is widespread dissatisfaction with our educational system among educators, parents, policymakers, and the business community. Efforts to reform and restructure schools have focused attention on the role of assessment in school improvement. After years of increases in the quantity of formalized testing and the consequences of poor test scores, many educators have begun to strongly criticize the measures used to monitor student performance and evaluate programs. They claim that traditional measures fail to assess significant learning outcomes and thereby undermine curriculum, instruction, and policy decisions.The higher the stakes, the greater the pressure that is placed on teachers and administrators to devote more and more time to prepare students to do well on the tests. As a consequence, narrowly focused tests that emphasize recall have led to a similar narrowing of the curriculum and emphasis on rote memorization of facts with little opportunity to practice higher-order thinking skills. The timed nature of the tests and their format of one right answer has led teachers to give students practice in responding to artificially short texts and selecting the best answer rather than inventing their own...

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