What is Assessment? Who Needs To Assess? Effects of Traditional Tests etc

Essay by Alpenney November 2002

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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 Assessment

The reasons why we assess vary considerably across many groups of people within the educational community.

Who Needs To Assess? Purposes of Assessment

Policymakers 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 tests

Administrators and school * Monitor program effectiveness planners use assessment to: * Identify program strengths and weaknesses * Designate program priorities * Assess alternatives * Plan and improve programs

Teachers 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 grades

Parents and students use * Gauge student progress assessment to: * Assess student strengths and weaknesses * Determine school accountability * Make informed educational and career decisions

Effects of Traditional Tests

Billions 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...