Testing and Assessment in Education

An hour before exam, and we get to see everyone dug in the books to cram as much they can. Examination hall during the exam, all heads now dug in the answer sheets scanning the question paper meanwhile and sweating in tension with a huge commotion in the brain to find the answer, actually the best answer to get full marks. After the exam a big confusion everyone has, whether to be be happy that it ended or to be sad that soon the results will be out. Is this what is all about testing and assessment? It really needs to be a lot more then that.

Testing and assessment is ongoing with children in special education programs. Assessment can be one of the most difficult aspects of teaching. The educational, emotional, and formative subdivisions of judging a young person’s work can weigh heavily on the mind of a teacher. But in spite of the anxiety it poses, knowing how to assess students in order to improve instruction is a core principle of effective teaching.

All assessments are created to serve some purpose, whether to diagnose a learning disability, to identify a student who needs remediation, or to determine whether a school district has met its achievement goals. However, no one assessment serves all of these purposes well. Educators replace their assessment of learning with a more balanced approach, using not only assessment of learning but also assessment for learning. That is, teachers should use assessment not only to actively and continuously measure a learner’s progress but also to acquire useful data to inform their own instructional practice.

Assessment is important because of all the decisions you will make about children when teaching and caring for them. It should bring about benefits for children and should be tailored to a specific purpose and should be reliable, valid, and fair for that purpose. Assessment policies should be designed recognizing that reliability and validity of assessments increase with children’s age. It should be recognizing that to some extent all assessments are measures of language. Parents should be a valued source of assessment information, as well as an audience for assessment.

Educators are experiencing almost relentless pressure to show their effectiveness. These days, if a school’s standardized test scores are high, people think the school’s staff is effective and vice-versa. Most educators do not really understand why a standardized test provides a misleading estimate of a school staff’s effectiveness. Some of the items in standardized achievement tests measure the knowledge or skills that students learn in school. In certain subject areas, such as mathematics, children learn in school most of what they know about a subject. Few parents spend much time teaching their children about the intricacies of algebra or how to prove a theorem.

If the items in standardized achievement tests measured only what actually had been taught in school, I wouldn’t be so negative about using these tests to determine educational quality. All children weren’t born with identical intellectual abilities. What educators need to do is to spend some quality time with standardized achievement tests—scrutinizing the test’s items one at a time to see what they are really measuring.

Most educators, and almost all parents and school board members, think that schools should be rated on the basis of their students’ scores on standardized achievement tests. Those people need to be educated. It is the responsibility of all educators to do that educating. Educators should definitely be held accountable.

The teaching of a nation’s children is too important to be left unmonitored. But to evaluate educational quality by using the wrong assessment instruments is a subversion of good sense. Although educators need to produce valid evidence regarding their effectiveness, standardized achievement tests are the wrong tools for the task.

And as it is said by Jiddu Krishnamurti-

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”

We also must focus more on the education or to certain extent a fair and practical way of assessment than some complex examining patterns.


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