Assessment of students is a vital exercise aimed at evaluating their knowledge, talents, thoughts, or beliefs (Harlen, 2007). It involves testing a part of the content taught in class to ascertain the students’ learning progress. Assessment should put into consideration students’ class work and outside class work. For younger kids, the teacher should focus on language development.
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This will enhance the kids’ confidence when expressing their ideas whenever asked. As in organizations, checks on the performance of students’ progress should be undertaken regularly. Notably, organizations have a high probability of investing in futility because they lack opportunity for correction.
However, in schools there are more chances of correcting mistakes. Similarly, teachers and parents should have a basis of nurturing and correcting the students. This is only possible through assessment of students at certain intervals during their learning progress. Equally, parents or teachers can use tests as they teach as a means of offering quick solutions to challenges experienced by students while learning.
All trainers should work together with their students with the aim of achieving some goals. To evaluate if the goals are met, trainers use various assessment methods depending on the profession. This is exactly true when it comes to assessment in schools. Assessment should focus on the student learning progress.
It should be employed from the kindergarten to the highest levels of learning institutions such as the university. The most essential fact about assessment is that it has to be specific. This implies that each test should try to evaluate if a student is able to demonstrate the understanding of certain concepts taught in class. Contrary to what most examiners believe, assessment should never be used as a means of ranking students.
I this case the key aims of assessment will be lost. Ranking is not bad, but to some extent it might create a negative impression and demoralize the students who are not ranked at top in class. They feel that they are foolish, which is not the case. In general, assessment should be used for evaluation of results and thus creating and formulation of strategies for improving the students’ learning and performance.
Importance of assessment in school
Assessment forms an important part of learning that determines whether the objectives of education have been attained or not (Salvia, 2001). For important decision making concerning the student’s performance, assessment is inevitable. It is very crucial since it determines what course or career can the student partake depending on class performance.
This is not possible without an exam assessment. It engages instructors with a number of questions, which include whether they are teaching the students what they are supposed to be taught or not, and whether their teaching approach is suitable for students.
Students should be subjected to assessment beyond class work, because the world is changing and they are supposed to adapt to dynamics they encounter in their everyday lives. Assessment is important for parents, students, and teachers.
Teachers should be able to identify the students’ level of knowledge and their special needs. They should be able to identify skills, design lesson plans, and come up with the goals of learning. Similarly, instructors should be able to create new learning arrangements and select appropriate learning materials to meet individual student’s needs.
Teachers have to inform parents about the student’s progress in class. This is only possible with the assessment of the students through either exam or group assessment. The assessment will make teachers improve learning mechanisms to meet the needs and abilities of all students. It provides teachers with a way of informing the public about the student’s progress in school.
Whenever parents are informed about the results of their children, they have to contribute to decision making concerning the student’s education needs (Harlen, 2007). Parents are able to select and pay for the relevant curriculum for their students. They can hire personal tutors or pay tuition to promote the learning of the student.
Students should be able to evaluate their performance and learning in school with the use of assessment results. It forms the basis of self-motivation as through it students are able to put extra efforts in order improve their exam performance. Without results, a student might be tempted to assume that he or she has mastered everything taught in class.
Methods of assessment
Various mechanisms can be used to assess the students in school. These include both group assessment and various examinations issued during the learning session. The exam could be done on a weekly, monthly, or terminal basis. Through this, a student is required to submit a written paper or oral presentation. Assignments are normally given with a fixed date of submission.
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The teacher determines the amount of time required depending on the complexity of the assignment. It can take a day, a week, or even a month and this ensures that the student does not only rely on class work. It promotes research work and instills the self-driven virtue to the student. In addition, short time exam gives a quick feedback to the teacher about the student performance.
Exam methods of assessment
Before looking at the various methods of exam assessment, it is important to understand the major role that the assessment plays in the learning of the student. Carrying out an assessment at regular intervals allows the teachers to know how their students are progressing over time with respect to their previous assessments (Harlen, 2007).
Actually, testing of students helps in their learning and creates motivation to learn more and improve their performance in the future examination. It also guides the teacher on ways of passing on the knowledge to the students. There are three purposes of assessment and these include assessment for learning, assessment to learning, and assessment of learning.
All these help the teacher in planning of his lessons and means of getting feedback from students. Moreover, these three factors of learning join the efforts of parents, student, and teachers in the process of learning. There are several repercussions realized when parents do not monitor closely the performance of their kids.
Education experts assert that parents who fail to monitor their children’s learning progress are like farmers who sow seeds during planting season and wait to reap during the harvesting season yet they did nothing about it. The success of the student is easily achieved when there is harmony among the parents, teachers, and the students.
Methods of assessment can be categorized into three steps: baseline, formative and summative (Stefanakis, 2010). The baseline is considered as the basic and marks the beginning of learning. The summative one carries the bigger weight than the formative in the overall performance of the student. It carries more marks and it is usually done at the end of the teaching period in the term paper.
The aim is to check for the overall understanding of the unit or topic by the student. As the formative assessment is a continuous process during the learning session in the classroom, the instructor should use the general feedback and observations while teaching. It can provide an immediate solution to the teacher because the area that troubles the student is easily identified and the teacher takes appropriate action.
Teachers should never ignore the formative or wait for the summative at the end of the learning term. Even if the teacher discovers weakness of the student, it might be less useful since there will be no room for improvement. Actually, it is more of a reactive measure rather than proactive summative assessment. Various mechanisms can be used to realize the formative assessment.
These include surveys, which involve collecting of students’ opinions, attitudes, and behaviors during class (Nitko, 2001). They help the instructor to interact with the student more closely, creating a supportive learning environment for the student. The teacher is able to clear any existing misconception from the students due to prior knowledge. It can also involve reflections of the student.
Here, the student is required to take some time and reflect on what was taught. It necessitates the student to ask several questions regarding what was taught, for instance, questions about the hottest topic, new concepts, or questions left unanswered. It also involves the teacher asking questions during a teaching session. This makes the teacher to point out the areas the students have not understood.
By doing so, the teacher is able to focus and put more effort on some topics as compared to others. The teacher can also decide to issue homework or assignments to students. This gives students an opportunity to build confidence on the knowledge acquired during class work (Stefanakis, 2010).
Most importantly, the teacher could include the objectives and expectations of each lesson and this can be in form of questions. These questions create awareness and curiosity of students about the topic.
For the above methods of assessment, various formats have been adopted. First is the baseline assessment, which aims at examining individual’s experience as well as the prior knowledge. There are pencil and paper easement method, which is a written test. It can be a short essay or multiple choice questions. It checks for the student’s understanding of certain concepts.
The third is the embedded assessment. It deals with testing the students in contextual learning and it is done in the formative stage. The fourth involves oral reports that aim at capturing the student’s communication and scientific skills. They are carried out in the formative stage. Interviews evaluate the group and individual performance during the formative stage.
There is also a performance task, which requires the student to work on an action related to the problem while explaining a scientific idea. Usually, it is assessed both in the summative and formative stages. All these formats ensure the objective of the assessment is achieved (Harlen, 2007). The above exam method promotes learning and acquiring of knowledge among the students.
Group methods of assessment
Assessment is a flexible activity as what is done to an individual during assessment can also be done in a group and still achieve the objectives of the assessment. Group work aims to ensure that students work together. The method is not as smooth as that of an individual’s assessment since awarding of grades is a bit tricky and not straightforward.
The instructors will not know which student has contributed a lot in the group work, unless the same grade is given to group members to create fairness in the process of assessment (Paquette, 2010). It is advisable to consider both the process and finished product when assessing group work.
By just looking at the final work of the group, no one can tell who did what and did not. Individual contributions are implicit in the final project. The teacher should employ some other measures to be able to distribute grades fairly.
The solutions of assessing group include consideration of the process and the final work. The instructor should assess the process involved in the development of the final work. The aspect of the project includes punctuality, cooperation and contribution of the individual student to the group work (Stefanakis, 2010). The participation of each student and teamwork should be assessed.
Fair grading requires looking at the achievement of the objectives of the project. In addition, the instructors can let the students assess and evaluate themselves through group participation. This enhances group teamwork and yields a fair distribution of grades. This is realized because the members of the group know how to research and present written analysis of their work.
Self-assessment aims at realizing respect, promptness, and listening to minority views within the group. Another effective way of ensuring that group work becomes successful is by holding group members accountable. This actually curbs the issue of joy riding among the group members. Individuals are allocated with a certain portion of the entire job.
This involves asking members to demonstrate what they have learned and how they have contributed into the group. In addition, the products and processes are assessed. Another interesting scenario is realized when the instructor gives students the opportunity to evaluate the work of other team members. The gauging of individuals involves the investigating of various aspects of the projects.
These include communication skills, efforts, cooperation, and participation of individual members. It is facilitated by the use of forms, which are completed by the students.
Group work aims at improving both accountability of individuals and vital information due to dynamics experienced in the group. To some extent, an instructor can involve the external feedbacks. These feedbacks are finally incorporated into the final score of the student’s group grade.
There are various mechanisms for assessing and grading the group. First, there is shared grading. Through this, the submitted work of the group is assessed and same grade to all members is awarded without considering the individual’s contribution. Secondly, there is averaging of the group grade. Through this, each member is required to submit the portion allocated.
After assessing the individual’s work, an average of all the members is evaluated and this grade is awarded to group members. This average group grade promotes members to focus on group and individual work. There is also individual grading, where the student’s allocated work is assessed and grades given to individuals.
This enhances efforts during working with all the members. In fact, this method is the fairest way of grading group work. There is also an individual report grading in which each member is required to write individual report. After submitting, assessment is done and a grade is given to the student.
Finally, there is an individual examination grading where questions are examined based on the project. This encourages students to participate fully during the project. It is hard to answer the questions if you have not participated in the group work.
How assessment prepares students for higher education/ workforce/ student character
It is a fact that in any institution exam is an inevitable criterion of assessing students. Whichever the system adopted by the governments of various countries worldwide, exam is an important event as teachers are able to allow those students who perform well to progress in their learning (Stefanakis, 2010). Those who have not met the minimum grading will require extra tuition before they are promoted.
This will involve the initiatives of parents to hire tutors for the student. Exam assessment prepares the student for higher levels of learning, because the higher institutions of learning have exam assessment too. Therefore, it is important for the students to get used to exam as well as research, which will boost the student understanding during lectures in the university or in college.
Similarly, at the end of a university degree course the students are required to carry out a project either as individual or group work. The knowledge and experience of teamwork gained during the lower study levels will play a great role in successful completion of tasks in the university.
Another important factor of assessment is that it helps a student to develop his or her character from childhood to adulthood. For the first time a student joins the school the test should be initiated.
From small things the student is asked by the teacher or by other colleagues, he or she learns how to associate with other students especially during the group work tasks. The student learns and embraces teamwork, cooperation, and accountability. These virtues are a foundation for character. In addition, the student acquires communication skills especially during the presentation of project work or during class sessions.
These small facts about life accumulate and contribute to life outside the school. The student is able to work in any environment. The exam credentials are vital requirements in the job market. All firms base their employment qualification on exams. More often, employers choose best workers based on their exam papers.
This approach has been vital since employers might not have time to assess ability to demonstrate their skills (Stefanakis, 2010). Therefore, the underlying basis is both exam and group assessment. Group assessment helps to build teamwork, which is a vital virtue in the workplace. Most projects in an organization are done in groups. Hence, teamwork aspects are very crucial during implementation.
The student utilizes the knowledge and experience of group work during school. The working environment is not so much different from socialization in school. In any organization, the success of a company is determined by the teamwork and unity of the workers. These vital virtues are learnt and developed in school and are enhanced by assessment.
Harlen, W. (2007). Assessment of learning. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.
Nitko, A. J. (2001). Educational assessment of students (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River,N.J.: Merrill.
Paquette, K. R. (2010). Striving for the perfect classroom instructional and assessment strategies to meet the needs of today’s diverse learners. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Salvia, J. (2001). Assessment (8th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Stefanakis, E. H. (2010). Differentiated assessment how to assess the learning potential of every student. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.