Assessing student learning is an important responsibility for all teachers.
Classroom assessment includes two major types of activities: measurement and evaluation. Measurement is assigning numbers to certain attributes that provide information about how much knowledge and skill students have learned while evaluation is making judgments about the adequacy or acceptability of each student's level of learning. Both of these aspects of assessment are important because they help to determine students' learning progress as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
Teachers can use a variety of different measurement techniques to help them determine what students have learned.
Teachers determine the type of measurement technique they are going to use based upon their objectives. Broadly defined, objectives fit into one of two categories: knowing about something and knowing how to do something. Written tests are used to assess those objectives related to knowing about something. Performance tests are used to assess those objectives related to knowing how to do something. There are many different varieties of both written and performance tests.
Two main approaches to evaluating students are the norm-referenced approach and the criterion-referenced approach.
Both of these approaches to evaluation are commonly used in classroom assessments. The norm-referenced approach to evaluation involves grading that is based upon comparisons between students. In contrast, the criterion-referenced approach to evaluation involves grading that is based upon comparisons between individual student performances and some pre-set criteria.
Since assessment plays an important role in teaching and learning, it is important to be aware of inappropriate testing and grading practices.
Researchers in the area of assessment have observed and described a number of inappropriate practices. These practices include providing insufficient instruction before testing, keeping the nature and content of the test a secret, and changing grading criteria, to name a few. No matter how inappropriate the practice, students always suffer.
In recent years, a variety of technological advancements have been developed to enhance assessment in the classroom.
Technology has helped teachers reduce the amount of time they spend on assessment. Computer-based technology now allows for the efficient creation of test-item banks and examinations, maintenance of student records, and generation of reports. With very little effort, teachers are able to generate complex profiles of student progress. In addition to reducing teacher time, technology has also been used in student performance assessment. Students can create digital portfolios to display their educational progress within a class as well across grade levels.