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Assessment and evaluation has become critical issues especially in the field of teaching and learning; it requires watchful consideration by every teaching practitioner in any educational institution. This is also the area where many teachers sink into the pool of confusion. But it has its key function, which is to collect information on the achievement of every individual student and judge their everyday progress. In other words, it serve vital role in the process of effective teaching and learning.
Therefore, this essay will explain my understanding of assessment and evaluation from the perspectives of development, formal, informal, special needs, and standards in brief. However, to do this, we first need to define assessment and evaluation.
The word assessment is derived from the Latin word 'assidere' meaning 'to sit beside'. It is obvious that simple tone of this phrase is soothing, and it suggests mutual confidence and understanding. So, it indirectly tells that existence of positive association between assessment and the process of teaching and learning in schools is necessary.
By and large, assessment is a process of collecting information relative to some identified aims and objectives involved with students' progress and achievement in the process of teaching and learning. More specifically, classroom assessment refers to the process of gathering, recording, interpreting, using and communicating information about a their progress and achievement during the development of knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes.
According to Lloyd-Jones and Bray (1986) assessment is referred to the process in which certain quality of a student's education is measured, by the teacher, an examiner or the student. It is means to measure worthiness of students' performance. Assessment, therefore, involves much more than testing. It is an ongoing process that encompasses many formal and informal activities intended to examine and improve teaching and learning in all areas of the curriculum.
On the other hand, evaluation is more or less defined as the process of judging relative merit, value, or worthiness of educational programs, or techniques by using realistic information generated through assessment. It helps in updating the nature and degree of learning; plays pivotal role in curricular decision making; and it favour better links between learning, and the aims and objectives of teaching. Moreover, it creates strong bond between learning and the environments in which learning takes place. Therefore, in educational setting, assessment and evaluation seeks evidence that the learning activities designed for students are effective.
Assessment and Evaluation from the perspective of development
Why do we assess and evaluate? This is the first question that knocks in my mind whenever I look assessment and evaluation from an angle of development. Generally, teachers plays vital role in developmental assessment and evaluation of students' learning and programs for many reasons:
Firstly, assessment and evaluation help teachers and student affair administrators to enhance their understanding of the needs of a persistently varying student population. In addition, it will help in identifying developmental delays in students and to develop strategies for intervention. For that, I would prefer to use the concept of integrated model of child development. It is because the model covers up all developmental areas such as sensory, behavioural, language, motor, perceptual, social cognitive and emotional skills. So it can also be used to improve holistic development of students as a student, self, and valuable citizen of the nation as it reflects their personality as well as their degree of achievement in the field of learning.
Secondly, assessment is also meant to develop efficient educational institutional plans and policies to meet students' developmental needs and learning styles. They are crucial for advancing the quality and easy accessibility of programs and services.
Thirdly, we cannot avoid its greatest contribution in curriculum development. Through assessment and evaluation, we will be able to help curriculum developers for deciding how we might improve courses and programmes. At the same time, as a teacher we can contribute in doing revision on curriculum, course materials, teaching methodologies, etc. It is because assessment results can specially provide a potent rational for securing scaffold for curriculum changes, development and review.
Formal and Informal Assessment and Evaluation
A formal assessment is also sometimes known as summative assessment. And it is generally assessed in the form of quiz, test, or paper and is graded based on how well student is able to perform. A summative assessment is normally carried out at the end of unit or module.
Furthermore, formal assessments are categorized into criterion-referenced tests and norm-referenced tests. Criterion-referencing is assessment based on certain criterion or principle, whereas norm-referencing is graded assessment based on the comparisons of learners' achievement against one another from time to time.
But I prefer more of criterion referencing method than norm-referencing because it can be used to judge students' achievement and progress on a series of key criteria set based on reasonably expected learning outcomes and objectives. Whereas, norm-referencing is based on the assumption, that a roughly similar range of human performance can be expected for any student group.
On the other hand, Informal assessment is referred as formative test, and it is a continuous process of assessment and evaluation. Feedback plays vital role here as it allows both learners and teachers to evaluate learning and spot out the areas for improvement.
But which one could be the best form of assessment, formal or informal? In my opinion, the use of informal assessments is best for the overall learning. It facilitate teachers to assess students through a range of classroom-based activities, identify students weakness then and there and start work for the improvement, rather than waiting at the last minute like informal assessment.
Assessment and Evaluation for special needs students
Students' having problems such as: motor, linguistic, cognitive, behavioural, organizational, speech and physical disabilities are usually referred as special needs students, and it also includes gifted students. They should not be left out without normal education. Special arrangements or special needs accommodations should be offered to them in order to pursue their academic goals and achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency.
Similarly they also need to be evaluated and identified their strengths, weaknesses and give guiding principles to make effective progress in attaining their academic goals. Other than teachers and peers, students' family should involve in it. So, I feel that, by building an alliance with their parents; obtaining students' developmental history and current family experience; and discussing issues with them would help greatly for addressing challenges in guiding special needs students to succeed like other normal students. Moreover, evaluation will be holistic and addresses all aspects of functioning. For that we should not forget to take students' individual learning styles into account as all students do not have same learning capability and ways.
Sometimes students with special needs are integrated in regular classrooms because the main idea of assessment and evaluation in this field itself is to see whether a student is able to adapt, make progress and met objectives in normal class like normal students. Assessment indicates whether the student learned the materials intended and what are some of the drawbacks areas to be improved.
So schools and teacher must give all students an equal opportunity to education. Infect, they should provide counteractive assistance to special needs students. Never the less, we as a teacher, in order to select education program and activities suitable for our students, we must carefully evaluate our options and consider the specific needs of our disabled students.
Standards based Assessment and Evaluation
Here, it includes two types of educational standards, a content standard and a performance standard. A content standard defines the knowledge, concepts, and skills acquire at each grade level, while performance standard state the level of performance that is considered acceptable aligning to the benchmark set by the teachers.
Standards-based assessment and evaluation is meant to identify students with different pace and capabilities in learning, so that we can design strategies to help them and make all of them achieve and master to the level that they are required to retain certain benchmark in learning.
Understanding 'Standardized Test' and its characteristics is necessary when we discuss about assessment and evaluation from the perspective of standard as it is one of the instrument required in standard assessment and evaluation process. Range of knowledge and understanding in specific subject is being assessed through standardized testing on students. And it is a snapshot in time where assessments are administered and scored in the same way for all students.
For example, multiple-choice questions and written responses to be answered within a given time frame are examples of standard test. That means students are not allowed to use outer resources or references in order to complete the test. Their performance on these tests decides whether they will be promoted or not from one grade to the next. And this is what almost every school district now administers it.
However, it is important for us not to get confused of Standardized tests with the standards movement, which approve definite grade-level content and performance standards in main subject sphere. Frequently, regulated uniform tests are not associated with state and district content standards, and these causes noticeably lose of connection between what is being taught and what is being tested. So as a teacher we have to process our teaching according to the curriculum.
The standard evaluation will enable other school improvement plan and projects, and to bring advance changes in curriculum and pedagogy, and incorporation of new assessments. So standardized assessment and evaluation is uniformly regulated test which it refers to when every student at a particular grade level has to undergo the same test with same question, at same time frame in same year throughout the country.
In the nutshell, we would find that the descriptions given in above paragraphs are all views from different perspectives constructed by hypothesizing the both special needs students and normal student as an active in structuring their own learning in the context of social interaction; role of educational institutions and teachers in establishing the child's stage of development in any aspect of learning, and that information collected through various assessment and evaluation methods will then be used to 'scaffold' the next learning and curriculum development.