Assessment is the process of utilizing tools that would objectively measure the achievements and learning of students. Assessment serves as an instrument to align standards with local practices in order to design, learn and achieve quality work. Assessment is important in order to check whether students achieve the goals specified within the course. Furthermore, assessment can also be utilized to diagnose learning needs, identify areas that require more focus, as well as to improve the performance of the learner. Experience tells us that simply testing an isolated skill or a retained fact does not effectively measure a student’s capabilities nor does it prepare him or her for the demands and needs of the real world. A student must know how to apply all relevant skills and knowledge learned when presented with real-world challenges or “tasks that are either replicas or analogous to the kind of problems faced by adult citizens and consumers or professionals in the field” (Wiggins, 1990).
Today, educators are turning to alternative, performance-based assessments that are backed by criterion-referenced standards to aid in understanding student learning, and enable them to communicate evidence of that learning to parents, employers, and the community at large. For instance, the use of portfolios as form of assessment in the disciplines of art and writing is not merely a demonstration of the growth of the students’ talents but is also a showcase of their skills. Educators are thus expanding the use of portfolios as a form of assessment to other disciplines such as physical education, mathematics and the social sciences.
The benefits and advantages of this type of assessment compared to traditional standardized tests are best summarized in the following:
- It requires students to be effective performers with acquired knowledge and presents the student with the full array of tasks that mirror the priorities and challenges found in the best instructional activities (Wiggins, 1990).
- Allows educators to assess ability of the student to create thorough and justifiable answers, performances or products (Wiggins, 1990). It can also be successfully used with students from a diverse background, as well as those who differ in terms of learning style and inherent academic ability (Hart, 1994).
8.1- Explain legal issues, policies and procedures relevant to assessment, including those for confidentiality, health, safety and welfare
An important legislation relevant in the field of education is the Data Protection Act of 1998. It aims to protect personal and sensitive information of an individual and provide a means for individuals to access their own records. Confidentiality and privacy are held in high regard in terms of processing and disclosure of information, which may include medical data and basic personal data such as name, address, date of birth, etc. This is applicable in manual (paper) and electronic records alike as well as any conversation regarding a student’s progress. Information gained should be used for professional purposes and only relevant data should be entered in the client’s records. Entries made in the student’s records should also be clear, factual, accurate and up-to-date. Furthermore, ensuring the security of files is also of importance which may be achieved through keeping confidential papers locked and conforming to IT security standards.
8.2 – explain the contribution that technology can make to the assessment process
8.3 – evaluate requirements for equality and diversity and, where appropriate, bilingualism in relation to the assessment.
The teaching arena has been besieged as well by several changes such as incorporating technology in class and the need for cultural diversity. As various communications technologies emerge and become practical for classroom application, the need for transformation of instructional practice and staff development becomes correspondingly enormous. It cannot be denied, however, how technology has made learning more accessible. Today, Educators often used web-based applications to communicate with learners, conduct teaching sessions and evaluate students’ works. Indeed, technology has also paved the way for Distance Learning; thus allowing people all over the world to participate and engage in a teaching session through a web based application that may utilize video and audio feedback.
Another stark reality that educators must face is the fact that school populations have increasingly become culturally and linguistically diverse. Multicultural education acknowledges that schools and teachers play a pivotal role in building the foundation as well as in influencing students to reach their highest potential. Teachers, being central figures to student learning, are critical in multicultural education. Teachers must show respect for students’ cultural preferences in all aspects of learning. The Praxis Institute for Early Childhood Education in Seattle, Washington has even adopted an innovative program which enable teachers who speak a home language to attain bilingual proficiency at the end of a three-year period.
8.4- explain the value of reflective practice and continuing professional development in the assessment progress.
Professional development is an integral and crucial component of the overall teaching and learning environment. Without it, no educational reform can ever be successful. Every educational institution aspiring for higher standards of learning and development for its students and for the institution needs to seriously take to task the goal towards achieving high quality professional development of its teaching staff. Achieving this as an end is no easy task as it requires, on the part of the institution, its total commitment and support in the program implementation and in forging partnerships with other schools, higher education institutions and other appropriate entities that impact on teaching, the students, and the learning environment.
6.1 – evaluate the importance of quality assurance in the assessment process.
To ensure quality during the assessment process, establishing a set of standards is essential. Standards in the area of education can aid in maintaining the quality of education that learners receive. Standards also aid educators in assessing learner ability and performance in a given level as well as helping the management to determine the quality of teaching methodologies employed by the teachers.
Banks, J.A. (1991) Teaching multicultural literacy to teachers. Teaching Education, 4, 135-144.
Great Britain (1998) Data Protection Act 1998: Elizabeth II. Chapter 2.London: The Stationery Office
Hart, D. (1994). Authentic assessment: a handbook for educators. . Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Haslam, M.B. and Seremet, C.P. (2001) Strategies for improving professional development: A guide for school districts. Accessed 08-Feb-2012 from www.policystudies.com/studies/professional/ProfessionalDevelopment.pdf
Wiggins, G. (1990) The case for authentic assessment. ERIC Digest, Accessed 08-Feb-2012, from http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-9218/case.htm
Zeichner, K.M. (1993) Educating teachers for cultural diversity (NCRTL special report). East Lansing, MI: National Center for Research on Teacher Learning.
Zon, C. et. al. (1998). Standards For Improvement. Thrust for Educational Leadership, 28, 14-18.