The development of education system is based on the way stakeholders adjust to fit into the standards set by experts from both local and federal governments. In this case, the concepts of curriculum alignment are applied. Alignment in terms of education refers to the extent to which the component of education including curricula, instruction, assessment and standards functions as a unit or together to yield desired objectives.
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Since the enactment of No Child Left behind Act of 2001 and necessitation of accountability in the sector of education, stakeholders in the education industry have resorted to curriculum alignment so as to comply with set rules and requirements. Alignment shields overlapping and skipping of important content in the curriculum (Stringer, 2008).
Concept of Alignment
Alignment is achieved through vertical and horizontal practices. In vertical alignment, the program is enhanced across the grades from the nursery school level to the high school level. Vertical alignment is meant to improve the performance of the student as he or she progresses. In this case, the alignment should aim at decreasing instruction time utilized during re-teaching time.
Alignment is also achieved through horizontal concept. In this case, curriculum being taught by teachers in the same grade is made to conform to each other. It provides teachers with a goal for instruction on top of ensuring that students are equipped well for their subsequent grades or levels.
Guidelines for Ensuring Alignment
To ensure that alignment is achieved, there ought to be a curriculum team in place. The group should consist of administrator s, teachers, head of sections, and content experts. The curriculum team should work together to come up with a curriculum map.
The curriculum map should be reviewed constantly to ensure that it address the needs of the entire student population and at the same time sticks to the regulation of the ministry of education and other education authorities. The curriculum team should ensure all parts in the curriculum have been addressed by the teachers in their instructions (Biggs, 2003).
This means that alignment should go hand in hand with supervision. At the same time, the alignment will consider provision of instructional materials stipulated in the curriculum and training teachers on the changes made.
Assessment Planning and Learning Theory
Assessment planning entails procedures involved in an assessment cycle in relation to the required learning outcomes. It gives a student a learning outcome to focus on as well as helping them achieve the desired outcome. Learning theory on the other hand is very useful to a student.
This is because theory is the basis of a student’s professional performance. Depending on the theory a scholar chooses to study, one becomes shaped toward the learning outcome expected (Race, Brown & Smith, 2005).
Importance of Learning Theory as it Relates to Assessment Planning
Learning theory is important in assessment planning because it provides background to education. Students learning strategies are developed by learning theory through one’s years of formal education. All exploits are based on postulations, which may or may not have been expressed and are addressed through the assessment of theories. These are things that scholars learn in their own in the course of their studies.
Even though they may not know what theories they have developed, learning theory enables them analyze what they have developed, which is important in relation to assessment planning. Theory has several benefits to a scholar.
They include giving insights and self-affirmation, giving solutions to problems, giving a reflection of one’s theoretical position, giving literature review of other theories to fosters learning, justifying one’s practices to other people, and granting power through knowledge. Even to teachers, use of theory improves learning, which in turn is incorporated in any practice required in assessment (Prince, 2004).
How to Utilize Learning Theory in Developing an Assessment Plan
To utilize learning theory in developing an assessment plan several practices have to be employed. First, the theory defines one’s program and the learning outcomes.
These entail the program’s objectives and missions, education objectives desired and the learning outcomes that are on focus. Second, learning theory helps the components of a program with the learning outcomes. Third, it is through learning theory that a scholar is able to select and implement assessment methods. Fourth, learning theory gives the evidence gathered in assessment.
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Promoting Learner-Centered Teaching
Learner-centered teaching is the process of imparting knowledge to students based on their needs rather than following the aligned format designed for the curriculum. The promotion of learner-centered teaching is achieved through several processes. First, the classroom power should be shifted from the instructor to the student.
Second, the content in the curriculum should be designed in a way of building knowledge rather than as a means of knowledge to end. Third, the teacher should avail him or herself as a contributor and facilitator rather than a principal. Fourth, learning responsibilities should be shifted from the teacher to the student. Lastly, effective assessment with feedback mechanism should be promoted (Maryellen, 2002).
Effective Assessments for the Online Environment
Online assessment can only be effective if both the learner and the instructors having a grasp of the technology in use. Therefore, the assessment takes into considerations the students’ knowledge of the technology in use. The assessment should meet the diverse needs of the students because hardly are they on one level.
During the assessment, the teacher should also evaluate the technology for effectiveness and accuracy. Multiple methods of evaluation should be used. The assessment should designed in a manner that they reduce cheating because it is easy for the student to cheat in an online environment. Fairness should be considered (Davies, 2000).
Importance of Learner Feedback
Feedback is essential for the process of learning because of several reasons. In the first place, it facilitates effective learning. Effective learning is facilitated because students are in a position to get clarification from the teacher. In most cases, the student takes into consideration what the teacher gives without questioning. If there is no feedback mechanism, the students will not be sure of the authenticity of the information given.
Learner feedback mechanism makes the learner more confident. Confidence is generated from the assurance given to the learner by the teacher. The student takes into consideration what is taught by the teacher and they are expected to synthesis the information to cement themselves into a given discipline.
The student is further expected to display his or her understanding of the information given by answering questions or performing to the expectation in a given assignment. This means that the student is less confident if he or she is not sure of the performance graph.
This means that feedback mechanism gives the student some confidence because the teacher assesses his or her learning graph and assures the student of the right path to take. The confidence of the student is increased if he or she realizes he or she was on the right path.
At the same time, the student is given some assurance by the teacher on the feedback. Furthermore, feedback gives the student enthusiasm for learning. The data from the feedback encourages the student to work hard in the weak areas identified and stamp authority in strong areas.
Feedback further improves the learning process. It enables the teacher to assess the learning path of the student and identify the areas to appreciate learning process for the student. In addition, feedback process enables the teacher to design the type of intervention or remedial lesson to give the student.
From the data obtained, it was discovered that feedback relates to achievement irrespective of the race, grade and discipline (Yorke, 2002). This means that it is the best tool for improving the performance of students.
Guidelines and Best Practices for Providing Effective Learner Feedback
The effective learner feedback is done following certain guidelines. During the design phase of the assessment, the purpose of the assessment should be clearly stated. This step is guided by the need assessment data. The assessment should be done in line with the mission and objectives of the institutions. This means that the process should be lawful. The type of outcome ought to be determined.
There are different types of assessment including developmental assessment, learning assessment, evaluation assessment, and program review assessment. The assessment ought to define the type of assessment in order to be in line with the objectives. The assessment should also make use of literature. This means that the assessment ought to consider some of the theories available.
The assessment should have a design approach for data collection method from the assessment. Through the methodology, operational variables are designed. Operational variables enable the teacher to define whatever is being measured. Thereafter, the teacher is supposed to establish the type of assessment design to be used and the sampling strategy.
During the entire process, the teacher should ensure best practices are observed. They include giving considerations to multicultural practices, considering professional standards, advocating for change and being connected to result oriented strategies.
Utilizing Technology to Create Performance Evaluations
Information technology can be used to create performance assessment. This involves creation of programs in computers to speed up the process of assessment. Through a designed computer program, questions and answers are generated to avoid cases of errors and bring in uniformity. Uniformity is aided by the creation of a template containing questions for assessment.
The template is generated for every student but with different numbers. For the case of generating questions with different numbers, the mail merging technique can be used. The general process would be to create templates of questions in word format and standardize the questions. Answers to the questions should also be standardized in an excel format.
Thereafter, questions can be generated randomly with answers in the excel format. The question data and solution data is thereafter stored in excel format. From the database created, the teacher can generate assessment questions with their respective answers. Using this technique, myriads of exam problems can be created for students to work on them.
After working out the problems, the system generates detailed answers questions done for the student to evaluate his or her performance. Information and technology system is essential in the assessment process of student’s learning because it is fast, accurate, efficient, and automatic (Davies, 2000). This means that students can automatically use the technology to asses themselves with or without the teacher.
Guidelines and Best Practices for Scoring and Grading
Assessment is accomplished through grading and scoring. For this case of students’ assessment in consideration, four qualities have been considered. The fist one is validity. The sores will reflect the grades of the student. The second quality is reliability. The assessment will give room for consistency and discrimination between different levels of performance.
The third quality is recognition. The grading and scoring will not be strange to the students. Lastly, the score will be realistic. The time and efforts of input should be portrayed in the actual grades. A set of rubric is developed and followed.
The rubric grades the student on organization, content, and style. A student is graded based on the deviation from the expected grade. This means they are graded as excellent, good, fairly good, poor or fail.
Guidelines and Best Practices for Interpretation of Data
After assessing students, the data from the assessment is interpreted. Interpretation of data follows set guidelines to ensure effectiveness of the entire process. Interpretation is done based on the rubric. The rubric designed above takes into considerations organization, content, and style. For the case of content, the data will be interpreted to determine if the content is accurate and complete based on the answers.
Any deviation from completeness and accuracy is assessed and accurate intervention program designed for the same. For the case of organization, the data from the student will be interpreted to determine if the right format has been followed, claims supported well with evidence, introduction body and conclusion given.
Interpretation is based on the deviation from the standard organization rubrics. For the case of style, the assessment considers if the student stuck to a given writing rules within a given style.
How to Assess the Assessment Process
In order to ensure continuous improvement of the assessment process, there ought to be constant assessment of the same. Since the assessment process is meant for students, students are also the best teachers for assessing the assessment process. Students understand that the assessment process used upon them defines their lives and therefore will scrutinizes it carefully and try to fit into its design.
As a result, assessment of the assessment process should involve assessing what the students considers as important, considering moments when they tune in and out during formal assessment and learning process, determining what they study at their own free time, and determining how they view themselves in their current positions.
Based on the evaluation of the above, the teacher will be in a position to adopt the assessment process to the needs of the students, provide students with a certain degree of freedom of assessment based on content and process, and deliver high quality feedback information to for the student (Maryellen, 2002).
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Stringer, E. (2008). Action research in education. 2 edn. New Jersey, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.
Maryellen, W. (2002). Learner-centered teaching. San Francisco, SF: Wiley Co.
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Tsui, L. (2000). Effects of campus culture on students’ critical thinking. The Review of Higher Education , 23 (4), 421-441.
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