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  • Writer's pictureJames Kerr

Assessment: A Trio of Thoughts

I believe that assessment must be tied to standards. Students must be fully informed concerning learning goals. Eventually students must demonstrate that they have learned the required content. In public schools, the content is defined by standards that are established by the state. Assessment of mastery of content standards should require a variety of steps, beginning with a pre-assessment and ending with a summative assessment. Assessment must be unbiased and based on clear and shared goals that can be implemented in the instructional process. Outcomes must be based on credible evidence, and measurable as students progress toward attaining defined goals.

I believe that assessment must be an ongoing process directed toward and supporting student improvement. At the onset of instruction, teachers must attain some idea of what students already know with respect to the learning goals. Assessing progress towards the defined goals requires a series of incremental assessments that provide evidence of progress toward the goals. Formative assessments simultaneously inform the teacher of steps to be taken to help students to grow their understanding. Feedback throughout the assessment process supports student progress toward the defined learning goals. Teachers make pedagogical decisions based on gathered and analysed information. An incremental or ongoing assessment strategy provides students with timely feedback.

I believe that assessment must be varied. Assessment should take multiple forms and support a universal design for learning. Multiple forms of assessment afford diverse sources of information. As students may choose multiple avenues to represent and express learning of defined goals, the assessment methods must also be fair and appropriate to the student choice. For example students may choose portfolios, tests, quizzes, surveys, exit notes, rubrics, surveys, and self-evaluations to convey mastery in learning of content. The assessments of these diverse student choices must be flexible, evolving, and continually refined according to the environment in which learning evolves.

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