The many meanings of multiple measures

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Multiple measures are designed to bring about validity and confidence for teachers and students. The use of multiple and/or formative assessments provides appropriate evidence of student learning to ensure accountability to students and the local community. The data from these assessments can be used to help modify instructional practice to better meet students' individual learning needs and produce productive members of society. McMillan (2011) describes different forms of assessment to gather information about student understanding by using multiple measures. He uses the examples of, pre-tests, home-work, in class assignments and quizzes.

In today's complicated classrooms it is very important to use multiple measures to assess student's academic performance. You can't know where you are going unless you know where you started. The article written by Brookhart (2009) expresses her opinion regarding the lack of understanding or acceptance of what multiple measures means in assessment practice. Brookhart (2009) points out that different definitions and different ways of combining multiple measures may not give an accurate picture of achievement or school effectiveness.

When gathering information on student performance it is important to use a wide variety of measures. One measure by itself gives useful information but comprehensive measures used together and over time, provide more accurate information. Ultimately schools need to be able to predict what will meet the needs of all students. An example of using one standardized test is the American SAT it is the nation's oldest and most widely used college entrance exam. The SAT'S are used for just one purpose; predicting first Year College grades (Kean, 1996). The problem with this is that many students are unfairly penalised if they do well in school but perform badly on the test. A decision or characterization that will have major impact on a student should not be made on the basis of a single test score.

By combining multiple measures not only does it give a more comprehensive analysis of student performance, it allows students to have a second chance or multiple opportunities to show their talents, without being confined to one source. The notion of multiple measures needs to be embraced by teachers and used in conjunction with other assessment techniques can, and will, enhance student learning.


Brookhart, S.M. (2009). The many meanings of multiple measures. Educational Leadership, 67(3), 6-12.

Kean, M. (1996). Multiple measures: The common sense approach to education assessment. School Assessment. Retrieved from

McMillan, J.H. (2011). Classroom assessment: Principles & practice for effective standards-based instruction. (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Sample 4: Summative assessment.


Summative assessment is the process of evaluating the learning of students to determine how well a course was taught and understood (McMillan, 2011). It typically involves tests, quizzes, end of year exams or chapter exams. The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate certain learning needs in order to judge how well students perform and in turn, have they applied their knowledge to meet the required standard of learning. Teachers can then use this information to make corrections or adjustments to the curriculum (Black, Harrison, Lee, Marshall & Wiliam, 2003).

Key aspects to summative assessment:

Planning summative assessment- When planning summative assessments there are a number of questions to consider:

Will the learning targets be met?

How many assessments to use.

What standards and outcomes are appropriate to assess.

Are the tests worthwhile, accurate, and fair to all students?

Student preparation- Preparing students for assessments is the key to success or failure of tests. Students need to be:

Proficient in test taking

Motivated to achieve their best results

Have all the relevant information to answer the questions

Familiar with practice tests

Given quality feedback after the test

Administering summative tests- The environment or test conditions that the students will be conducting the test in is just as important as the test itself. Things to consider include:

Is there enough light

Is the room at the right temperature

Is the area quiet with no interruptions

Are the students overly anxious

How can you minimise cheating

(McMillan, 2011).


Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & Wiliam, D. (2003) Assessment for learning: Putting it into practice. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

McMillan, J.H. (2011). Classroom assessment: Principles & practice for effective standards-based instruction. (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Sample 5: Formative assessment.

Formative assessment is the process between a teacher and student to enhance, recognize and respond to learning (Cowie & Bell, 1999). Formative assessment is used in day-to-day teaching to meet student needs. It consists of classroom questioning, quality feedback and peer and self assessment. The article written by Wiliam (2005) 'Keeping learning on track' discusses the essential elements of formative assessment and how this is applied to the classroom.

The central theme to Wiliams paper is that by "using assessment to support learning, rather than just to measure it's results you can improve student's achievement" (Wiliam, 2005, p-20). Black & Wiliam (1998a) conducted studies from around the world and found that when teachers used assessment for learning, instead of learning there was an increase in student achievement. This is also acknowledged in Scherer's (2009) article 'The tests that won't go away'.

Wiliam (2005) believed there are four elements of effective formative assessment;

Effective classroom questioning- sometimes what children learn is not what the teacher intended. Students can interpret questions in different ways. An efficient technique when questioning students is to ask multiple questions to one child, allow enough time to answer and give the students an opportunity to ask questions back. McMillian (2011) describes similar characteristics when using questions to assess students understanding to perform targeted skills.

Quality feedback- Feedback is used to improve performance. The article written by Fisher & Frey (2009) describes feedback as a powerful tool to affect student achievement. The key to quality feedback is the way in which students receive feedback. Some forms of feedback can have the opposite effect and can lead to low self esteem or a sense of failure. Wiliam (2005) conveyed strong ideas that feedback was not part of formative assessment unless it was used to offer improvements to individual learning and therefore, should be used sparingly.

Criteria for success- what do students need to do to succeed- Students need to understand the learning targets and what they need to do to achieve them in order to be successful in future learning (Ainsworth & Viegut, 2006).

Peer & self assessment- If students are not involved in the assessment process then formative assessment is not being used to its full potential. Students should be involved both as assessors of learning and resources to their peers (Black, Harrison, Lee, Marshall, & Wiliam, 2003).

Formative assessment is diagnostic. It is about what students learn rather than what teachers do (Stiggins, Arter, Chappius & Chappius, 2006). What was most interesting about the article is that, studies were conducted all around the world and included ideas from different cultures. This could provide valuable information which could be used in the Australian curriculum to meet the needs of our multicultural society.


Ainsworth, L., & Viegut, D. (2006). Common formative assessments. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Black, P. J. & Wiliam, D. (1998a). Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education: Principles Policy and Practice, 5(1), 7-73.

Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & Wiliam, D. (2003). Assessment for Learning: Putting it into practice. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Cowie, B., & Bell, B. (1999), A model of formative assessment in science education, Assessment in Education, 6, 101-116.

Fisher, D.L., & Frey, N. (2009). Feed up, back, forward. Educational Leadership, 67(3), 20-25. Retrieved from

McMillan, J.H. (2011). Classroom assessment: Principles & practice for effective standards-based instruction. (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Scherer, M. (2009). The tests that won't go away. Educational Leadership, 67(3), 5-5. Retrieved from ""&HYPERLINK ""url=%2fwebapps%2fblackboard%2fexecute%2flauncher%3ftype%3dCourse%26id%3d_55368_1%26url%3d

Stiggins, R.J., Arter, J.A., Chappius, J. & Chappius, S. (2006). Classroom assessment for student learning: Doing it right-using it well. Portland, OR: Educational Testing Service.

Wiliam, D. (2005). Keeping learning on track: Formative assessment and the regulation of learning. In M. Coupland, J. Anderson HYPERLINK ""&HYPERLINK "" T. Spencer (Eds), HYPERLINK ""Making Mathematics Vital HYPERLINK ""(pp. 20-34). Adelaide: AAMT. Retrieved

Sample 6: Techniques for formative assessment.

Praise is the act of making positive statements about a person (Khoo, 2001). Most students respond very well to praise, especially primary school students. Students want to feel comfortable and secure and want to please most adults. The teacher in the praise and preparation (2006) video uses praise as a teaching style to help manage her classroom more effectively. McMillan (2011) states that praise can be used to control student behaviour.

The teacher uses many different types of phrases when praising her students, so the statements seem meaningful and productive instead of saying the same thing to every student which can be taken as insincere.

The teacher in the video uses many praise techniques in her classroom that is within the context of what Popham, William (2005) and McMillan (2011) teach. Using 'effective praise' statements such as "Excellent listening, Jason," or "Terrific jobs, Grace," are examples of praise. They are nonspecific and are usually given to a child when a task or deed is completed or is well done.

Specific praise strategies used by the teacher in the video include;

Group praise- Lets the whole class know when they have done a good job.

Individual praise- Specific praise for each individual student.

Quiet close praise- Going up to a child and giving one-on-one praise.

Praise can have lasting effects on students. The teacher in the video uses praise to reinforce and encourage good behaviour. In turn, if the students exhibit this good behaviour then they are rewarded. An example of this is the teacher's use of star charts for correct answers. Once a student has a certain number of stars they are invited to a special excursion at the end of the semester. This gave students an incentive to learn and an eagerness to answer questions correctly.

The teacher's technique will definitely contribute to more effective learning. Students seemed to show genuine interest in her teaching style and she displayed a sense of authority and belonging in the classroom.


Khoo, V. (2001). The importance of praise. Inform, 4(2), 8-10.

McMillan, J.H. (2011). Classroom assessment: Principles & practice for effective standards-based instruction. (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Praise & Preparation. (2006). Teachers TV. Retrieved from ""&HYPERLINK ""url=%2fwebapps%2fblackboard%2fexecute%2flauncher%3ftype%3dCourse%26id%3d_55368_1%26url%3

Popham, W.J. (2008) Transformative assessment. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, 57-63. Retrieved from

Wiliam, D. (2005). Keeping learning on track: Formative assessment and the regulation of learning. In M. Coupland, J. Anderson HYPERLINK ""&HYPERLINK "" T. Spencer (Eds), HYPERLINK ""Making Mathematics Vital HYPERLINK ""(pp. 20-34). Adelaide: AAMT. Retrieved

Sample 7: Key Principles for quality assessment.

Quality assessment is an important tool to measure the success of the complex learning process. It involves not only knowledge but what students can do with this knowledge. Carefully designed assessments are directly linked to the way students approach their study and contribute indirectly to the quality of their learning (Killen, 2005).

According to McMillan (2011), quality assessment sets clear expectations, establishes a realistic workload and provides opportunities for students to receive effective feedback. Gibbs & Simpson (2004) describe the assessment process based on two fundamental ideas: Comprehensive assessment tasks should have-

Clear learning tasks

Productive learning activities

Enough time to complete tasks

Clear communication between teacher and student


Focus is on learning not marks

Is linked to outcomes

Is detailed and can be understood by students

The ideas and strategies in the curriculum framework (2008) support three interrelated objectives for quality assessment. These were chosen as they were a common theme in all the readings.

Assessment methods that are fair and used without discrimination to all students. All assessment tasks should be checked to ensure they are realistic and without bias to particular student groups.

Validity and consistency of outcomes. This is to ensure that students are all being assessed based on the same criteria and learning goals.

Reports student achievement using multiple kinds of sources and evidence. Students receive detailed and diagnostic feedback as well as grades. When grading students it is important to calculate and report on the basis of clear learning outcomes and levels of achievement. Killen (2005) believes that feedback is just as important as grades; it should be constructive and individualized and should focus on merit and ways to improve knowledge.

Other indicators of quality assessment include:

Assessments that allow students to take responsibility for their own learning.

Moderation-knowing when and how much to assess.

Assessment practices are typically viewed differently between teacher and student. Assessments can be one of the final considerations for teachers in the design of the learning process. Teachers are often focused on developing learning outcomes and planning learning activities to meet these outcomes. Students often work backwards, considering first and foremost on how they will be assessed and how to demonstrate what they have learned.


Curriculum Council of Western Australia. (2004). Curriculum Framework. Osborne Park, W.A. Retrieved

Gibbs, G. & Simpson, C. (2004). Conditions under which assessments support student's learning. In Pelliccoine, L. & Groves, R. (2009). Using technology to engage learners in the assessment process. Curtin University of Technology. Perth: Australia. Retrieved

Killen, R. (2005). Programming and assessment for quality teaching and learning. South Melbourne: Cengage. Retrieved

McMillan, J.H. (2011). Classroom assessment: Principles & practice for effective standards-based instruction. (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Sample 8: Assessing Student Affect.

Assessing student affect is as important as assessing cognitive achievement. Affective traits can determine how students learn and what holds them back. According to Popham (2009) student affect is the attitudes, interests and values that students exhibit and acquire in school. In an effort to learn more about individual student's affect towards school the following assessment tool was designed:

The design process- the following tool is designed for students aged between 7-10 years. The affective trait that it covers is classroom environment. McMillan (2011, p. 287) describes classroom environment as "Nature of feeling tones and interpersonal relationships in a class." The idea behind the tool was to keep it simple by using short questions as well as visually appealing by using colours and clouds. Giving the students the choice to answer agree/disagree/unsure is a simple way for students to say how they feel without long explanations.

Reasons for selecting the particular affective trait- The classroom environment fosters student learning, therefore, the classroom needs to be inviting and meaningful (Marsh, 2004). Students need to feel safe and free to express how they feel without fear of persecution or embarrassment. This tool is designed to assess if student's interpersonal relationships in class impacts on their sense of belonging in the classroom.

Why the tool will be effective for the age group it is designed for- This can be a very emotional time for this particular age group. Students are trying to cope with a large educational workload as well as discovering where they fit into their peer environment. This tool can be helpful in learning how the classroom environment impacts on the emotional state of each student and who may need extra support.

How the results will be used to support learning- This assessment tool can be used to predict student performance, and detect if there is a need for immediate intervention or isolate a particular problem. The results can help teachers formulate better learning goals and even identify students who may display behavioural problems in the future based on their answers.

Classroom Cloud Sheet

For each statement mark whether you agree or disagree or are unsure about the statement.

2. I make my own decisions and no-one can tell me what to do-

1. I have a lot of friends in my class-

4. I am not afraid to stand up and speak in class-

6. I sometimes worry about what other people think of me -

5. I like to help my classmates-

3. We are allowed to say what we feel in class-

7. I feel comfortable talking to my teacher-


Marsh, C. (2004). Becoming a teacher: Knowledge skills & issues. (3rd ed.). Frenchs Forest. NSW: Prentice Hall.

McMillan, J.H. (2011). Classroom assessment: Principles & practice for effective standards-based instruction. (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Popham, W.J. (2009). Assessing student affect. Educational Leadership, 66(8), 85.

Sample 9: Effective feedback; Students as assessment partners.

To whom it may concern,

This letter is designed to inform you about the importance of providing quality feedback to primary school students and how this can be achieved in the classroom. There is no doubt that effective feedback enhances student performance. Students look for and respond to feedback that is positive and instructive. Teachers tend to underestimate the power they hold when giving feedback. Effective feedback can literally shape student's learning. If students feel engaged and their work are recognized in a positive way they are motivated to try harder and strive to do better. Feedback is an integral part of an instructional dialogue between teacher and student.

It is written in McMillan that feedback needs to be specific and descriptive in order for it to be effective or meaningful to the student. This is an important point to remember otherwise the teachers words won't carry any real weight or change any learning behaviours.

The essential elements of quality feedback include the mode of delivery and the audience target. Weather it is oral or written feedback, to groups or individuals, the message is the same; feedback must be straightforward. There are many factors to consider when delivering effective feedback. The amount of feedback used needs to be constructive but not overwhelming. The delivery of feedback or timing needs to be immediate and prompt in order to have the greatest effect on the student.

Of the many types of feedback the standards- referenced approach is considered the most important method used to improve student learning. This form of feedback has a specific goal and function to help student's understand what they need to learn and how to demonstrate their level of knowledge when required. This should be the main type of feedback employed by teachers.

Overall effective feedback sets the standards for performance and if done correctly can enhance or even change student learning and student's affect towards learning. Please consider these points when assessing classroom management skills.

Kind regards

Karissa Solway (Student Curtin University).


McMillan, J.H. (2011). Classroom assessment: Principles & practice for effective standards-based instruction. (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Week 10: 'Schools risk becoming exam factories'.

Traditionally, examinations or standardized tests have been used to assess whether learning has occurred but weaknesses in methodology have meant that examinations often show a current state of knowledge, not whether the teaching was successful. Examinations have been recognised as a powerful influence on what happens in schools by tending to dictate what is taught and not taught. The examinations implicitly define what knowledge is significant and what is regarded as not important.

The drawback for this kind of testing is that, not all students do well in exam situations and yet, may do well throughout the year instead. It is not an accurate measure of individual performance but rather a general overall view. Not all students learn at the same rate and others may display talents in areas that are not included in the test. McMillan (2011, p. 412) states that "as long as the results from these tests are not used as the sole criterion, scores can be used to form conclusions about the ability or prior achievement of students".

The other problem is that schools may feel pressured to perform to keep up with all other schools instead of focusing on student's individual needs. There is large demand on schools to produce high quality students and meet benchmark levels in testing.

There are however, some advantages to national testing. The results of the tests could indicate the direction of funding to areas of most need. Teachers can also use these results to better manage instructional planning and identify weaknesses in students work. Test and exams are also the main motivation for students to study (Falchikov & Thomson, 2008).

It is important to keep the gap between what and how students are learning in schools and what is happening in the real world in perspective. According to Wiggin's (1993) there needs to be more emphasis on skills such as analyzing information, critical thinking and reasoning and less on rote learning.

Schools need to keep moving forward to keep up with knowledge and technology which is growing at a fast pace. School examinations will remain the way they are because no-one has thought of a better substitute. Do schools risk becoming exam factories? This is an ongoing question that will 'test' educators long into the future.