Assessment Principle 2
Assessment should be educative
Assessment practices should be educationally sound and contribute to learning. Assessments may do this in a number of ways. Firstly, assessment activities should encourage in-depth and long-term learning. Secondly, assessments should provide feedback that assists students in learning and informs teachers' planning. Thirdly, where appropriate, assessment criteria should be made explicit to students to focus their attention on what they have to achieve and provide students with feedback about their progress.
Assessment needs to be comprehensive and balanced across various domains of learning and assess knowledge and higher order cognitive skills such as problem solving and critical thinking. Assessments need to be aligned with the curriculum and use a variety of assessment strategies, on the basis of their relevance to the knowledge, skills and understanding to be assessed and the purpose of the assessment.
Students need to be included in the assessment process. With expert support, students can learn to assess and evaluate their own learning in a way that further extends that learning. It is important that teachers are responsive to the unexpected ways students reveal their thinking. These opportunities can be used to extend or redirect teaching.
Reflecting on educationally sound assessment practices
In-depth long-term learning refers to students having a deep foundation of factual knowledge; understanding ideas in the context of a conceptual framework; and organising knowledge in a way that facilitates retrieval and application.
It is therefore important that feedback to students provides logical connections between what they know and what they need to learn next. If feedback is to be effective, it needs to be clear, purposeful and compatible with students' prior learning.
Assessments also inform the teacher because they enable teachers to determine how successful their teaching strategies have been and which students require further instruction.
Consider feedback to your students
- Have you determined what information your students need to support their learning?
- Does your feedback relate specifically to the task?
- Does it identify for students what they got correct and point them in the direction of what they need to pursue next?
Consider feedback to you
- Have you determined what information you need to better understand your students' learning?
- Do you plan for the collection of evidence (within your lesson planning)?
- Do you anticipate how you will use the information to refine your lessons?
- Do you use assessments to identify the point at which a misconception or gap in learning has developed?
- Do you use assessments to identify the next skill or understanding a student or group of students needs to learn?
Ensure your assessments are educative
There are several ways you can ensure your assessments are educative.
- Plan focused and specific learning aims and plan assessment strategies that are compatible with those learning aims. When focused learning and focused assessment are planned together the assessments are more likely to contribute to student learning.
- Use strategies that enable ongoing checking for understanding and accounting for every student's learning. These strategies should be clearly evident to students so they get regular information about how they are progressing.
- Provide feedback to students to support them in understanding what they currently know and can do, and what they need to learn next. Ensure your feedback is clear, purposeful, and meaningful; that it helps students connect prior knowledge with what they are currently learning; and it helps them establish short- and long-term goals.
- Provide feedback in a manner that supports and encourages learning, and extends students' thinking.
- Give students opportunities to provide feedback to you about aspects of their learning that they feel uncertain of, so that you can act on these concerns in a timely manner.