Student assessment is the process of evaluating students’ abilities and achievements. It is an ongoing continuous and daily activity in every classroom, and it is integral to effective teaching. Student assessment includes both classroom assessment and standardized testing. Student assessment actually encompasses a variety of ways to determine how students are progressing in their learning.
Types of Assessment
- Assessment OF Learning is a summative measure of what a student has learned after instruction has ended, such as: unit test, mid-year exam, final exam.
- Assessment FOR Learning is a formative measure of what the student already knows and does not know so the teacher may plan future instruction accordingly, such as: STAR Reading.
- Assessment AS Learning occurs when the assessment is the learning activity, such as: an activity or project designed to also be a measure of learning. These are also known as performance assessments and typically include a scoring rubric.
Student assessment begins in the classroom. Each teacher evaluates students informally every day, observing their responses to questions, classroom contributions, interactions with other students, and acquisition of specific skills and concepts. The teacher uses these informal observations to answer these questions:, “Are the students learning the specific skills? Have the students understood the concept I was trying to teach?” If the answer is “NO”, the good teacher looks for another way to illuminate the skill and concept, either for the whole class or for the individual student. If the answer is “Yes”, then the teacher can move on to new skills and concepts.Periodically, teachers use more formal measures:
- One type of assessment measures a student's ability to answer well-structured, unconditional questions (e.g., true/false, multiple-choice, short answer, essay questions, or math problems)
- An alternative type of assessment evaluates students using a variety of indicators and sources of evidence (e.g. performance assessment, portfolio assessment)
A standardized test is one that is administered and scored under the same conditions for all students. Through such tests, the students are evaluated in relationship to students regionally, statewide, and nationally.
These tests serve a variety of purposes:
- They provide additional information for teachers, parents, and students on students’ progress with basic skills.
- They assist teachers in identifying students in need of additional support.
- They provide information to administrators and teachers about curriculum and instruction.
- They provide information about the performance of Scarsdale students relative to students in the region, state, and nation.
- Some are required by state mandate.
The Limits of Standardized Testing
Parents and educators should use caution when interpreting standardized test scores. They should not be the sole evaluation of student achievement or an educational program because:
- The tests are concerned only with certain basic skills and abilities and are not intended to measure total achievement for each subject and grade.
- The best assessment of a student’s achievement is still classroom performance as judged by a teacher who sees the student’s work in a variety of situations over the course of a school year.