Why Is Assessment Important?

Assessment is an integral part of instruction, as it determines whether or not the goals of education are being met. Assessment affects decisions about grades, placement, advancement, instructional needs, curriculum, and, in some cases, funding. Assessment inspire us to ask these hard questions: “Are we teaching what we think we are teaching?” “Are students learning what they are supposed to be learning?” “Is there a way to teach the subject better, thereby promoting better learning?”

Today’s students need to know not only the basic reading and arithmetic skills, but also skills that will allow them to face a world that is continually changing. They must be able to think critically, to analyze, and to make inferences. Changes in the skills base and knowledge our students need require new learning goals; these new learning goals change the relationship between assessment and instruction. Teachers need to take an active role in making decisions about the purpose of assessment and the content that is being assessed.

When assessment works best, it does the following:

Provides diagnostic feedback

  • What is the student’s knowledge base?
  • What is the student’s performance base?
  • What are the student’s needs?
  • What has to be taught?

Helps educators set standards

  • What performance demonstrates understanding?
  • What performance demonstrates knowledge?
  • What performance demonstrates mastery?

Evaluates progress

  • How is the student doing?
  • What teaching methods or approaches are most effective?
  • What changes or modifications to a lesson are needed to help the student?

Relates to a student’s progress

  • What has the student learned?
  • Can the student talk about the new knowledge?
  • Can the student demonstrate and use the new skills in other projects?

Motivates performance
For student self-evaluation:

  • Now that I’m in charge of my learning, how am I doing?
  • Now that I know how I’m doing, how can I do better?
  • What else would I like to learn?

For teacher self-evaluation:

  • What is working for the students?
  • What can I do to help the students more?
  • In what direction should we go next?

 

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