The word assessment is derived for the Latin assidere, meaning “to sit beside or with” (Wiggins 1993).
Although this notion of a teacher sitting with her students to really understand what is happening as they pursue the challenges of learning is far removed from the role that assessment and evaluation have typically played in schools, many teachers have always done it.
Assessment for, assessment as and assessment of learning are approaches that enable teachers to gather evidence and make judgments about student achievement.
These are not necessarily discrete approaches and may be used individually or together and formally or informally.
The principles of assessment for learning and assessment as learning strategies have some common elements.
Assessment for learning and assessment as learning incorporate:
- self-assessment and peer assessment
- strategies for students to actively monitor and evaluate their own learning
- feedback, together with evidence, to help teachers and students decide whether students are ready for the next phase of learning or whether they need further learning experiences to consolidate their knowledge, understanding and skills.
Assessment for learning and assessment as learning approaches, in particular, help teachers and students to know if current understanding is a suitable basis for future learning.
Teachers, using their professional judgment in a standards-referenced framework, are able to extend the process of assessment for learning into the assessment of learning.
Assessment for learning involves teachers using evidence about students' knowledge, understanding and skills to inform their teaching.
Sometimes referred to as ‘formative assessment', it usually occurs throughout the teaching and learning process to clarify student learning and understanding.
Assessment for learning:
- reflects a view of learning in which assessment helps students learn better, rather than just achieve a better mark
- involves formal and informal assessment activities as part of learning and to inform the planning of future learning
- includes clear goals for the learning activity
- provides effective feedback that motivates the learner and can lead to improvement
- reflects a belief that all students can improve
- encourages self-assessment and peer assessment as part of the regular classroom routines
- involves teachers, students and parents reflecting on evidence
- Is inclusive of all learners.
Assessment as learning occurs when students are their own assessors. Students monitor their own learning, ask questions and use a range of strategies to decide what they know and can do, and how to use assessment for new learning.
Assessment as learning:
- encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning
- requires students to ask questions about their learning
- involves teachers and students creating learning goals to encourage growth and development
- provides ways for students to use formal and informal feedback and self-assessment to help them understand the next steps in learning
- encourages peer assessment, self-assessment and reflection.
Assessment of learning assists teachers in using evidence of student learning to assess achievement against outcomes and standards.
Sometimes referred to as ‘summative assessment', it usually occurs at defined key points during a unit of work or at the end of a unit, term or semester, and may be used to rank or grade students.
The effectiveness of assessment of learning for grading or ranking depends on the validity and reliability of activities. Its effectiveness as an opportunity for learning depends on the nature and quality of the feedback.
Assessment of learning:
- is used to plan future learning goals and pathways for students
- provides evidence of achievement to the wider community, including parents, educators, the students themselves and outside groups
- provides a transparent interpretation across all audiences.
Let’s use assessment wisely. As (future) educators we need to know how assessments can serve its purpose. It’s in our hands how we can make it work to our advantage.
We must remember that there must be balance in using assessments based on different purposes it serves. We’ve already seen the challenges in our classroom brought about by limited use of assessments. As we move forward let’s try to step out from our comfort zone and maximize the use of assessments.
AZIZI AHMAD New Straits Times Opinion Letters February 25, 2018