Assessment is an interactive process that provides teachers, parents or guardians and the students themselves with valid information about progress and attainment of expected curriculum teaching. It focuses on teaching, learning and outcomes. The main goal of assessment is to improve student learning in the subject under study.
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Assessments are based on achievement goals and standards developed for a particular curriculum grade. Assessment is done to collect information on individual student performance within a given time frame. Learning evidences may include tests and portfolios. It may also involve other learning tasks such as journals and written work.
The outcome information can be shared with the students to make improvements. Improvement of student learning can be through changing achieved through changing the learning environment or the study habits. The subject of assessment can be of any type. It may be a happening or event, an individual, a place or a condition. The subject matter is learner-centered, course based and in most times anonymous and not graded. Assessment seeks to note down all data whether subjective or objective (Jere, 2010).
On the hand, an evaluation is a set of activities or statements that seek to determine whether objectives were realized. It focuses largely on grades and may reflect the components of classroom other than mastery level and course content. Evaluation may include discussion, attendance, verbal ability and cooperation among others. It is the last object of an inquiry.
Evaluations tell whether a set goal or a solution has been met or not. It takes place after completion of a learning activity. Evaluation is done at end of inquiry. Evaluation can result in three things: A positive change, a negative change or no change or development at all. Evaluation looks into whether improvements or changes have occurred in the data. Assessment and evaluation need each other and support one another (Gavi, 2011).
In summary, the three differences between assessment and evaluation are; Assessment is formative in the sense that it is ongoing and meant to improve learning while evaluation is summative, that is, it is final and it is meant to gauge quality. Assessment focuses on how learning is going (process-oriented) while evaluation focuses on what has been learned (product-oriented). Assessment identifies areas for improvement (it is diagnostic) while evaluation arrives at an overall grade, that is, it is judgmental (Patty, 2004).
Formal assessments have common sets of expectations from all students. These tests help teachers to understand how well students have understood theme skills and concepts taught in class. Thus teachers are able to systemically evaluate the students by use of real writing and reading experiences. They come with prescribed criteria interpretation. Data is computed and summarized mathematically. There are criteria for scoring and scores are commonly given by standard scores, percentiles or stanines.
The teachers have statistics that can support certain conclusions such as “a student is reading below average” because these tests have had been tried before on the students. Flexibility in assessment outcomes gives teachers another chance to closely monitor the students in order to modify assessment as required. Thus these benchmarks help teachers and guardians to evaluate student progress over the entire year (Gavi, 2011).
On the other hand, informal assessment indicates techniques that are incorporated into learning activities or classroom routines. Informal assessments are also called performance based measures or criterion referenced measures. They should be used in form of instruction. The type of assessment used should be in line with the purpose of assessment. They can be employed at any time without necessarily interfering with instructional time.
The results obtained indicate the performance of the student on that particular subject or skill of interest. Activities associated with informal assessment include demonstrations, oral presentations, individual projects and experiments among others. This type of assessment does not compare a broader group other than the students in that particular local project. Unlike formal assessments that are data driven, informal assessments are content and performance driven (Patty, 2004).
Social studies are integrated studies that are meant to improve civic responsibilities of students. I have chosen history subject as a social study in my informal assessment below. The informal assessment test is designed for students in elementary grades. A fourth-year grade teacher has just finished three hours lesson teaching a topic on the state’s history.
He intends to check the instructional effectiveness and understanding of this topic by employing a type of discussion that takes the form of written checks. The data obtained will in turn assist the teacher to plan and use data-based instructions during the next teaching period.
Gavi, R. M. (2011). Dyslexia : Special Educational Needs Series. New York, NY: International Publishing Group.
Jere, E. B. (2010). Effective assessment and Evaluation. Chicago: Tylor & Francis.
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Patty, S. A. (2004). Making sense of Online learning: A guide for beginners and the truly skeptical. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.