|Teaching (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 34 p.)|
The teacher uses a variety of formal and informal assessment methods to monitor progress towards learning goals.
A well-developed curriculum includes strong and functional assessment components. These assessment components are aligned with the curriculums goals, and so they are integrated with, its content, instructional methods and learning activities, and designed to evaluate progress towards its major intended outcomes.
Comprehensive assessment does not just document students ability to supply acceptable answers to questions or problems; it also examines the students reasoning and problem-solving processes. Effective teachers routinely monitor their students progress in this fashion, using both formal tests or performance evaluations and informal assessments of students contributions to lessons and work on assignments.
In the classroom
Effective teachers use assessment for evaluating students progress in learning and for planning curriculum improvements, not just for generating grades. Good assessment includes data from many sources besides paper-and-pencil tests, and it addresses the full range of goals or intended outcomes (not only knowledge but also higher-order thinking skills and content-related values and dispositions). Standardized, norm-referenced tests might comprise part of the assessment programme (these tests are useful to the extent that they measure intended outcomes of the curriculum and attention is paid to students performance on each individual item, not just total scores). However, standardized tests should ordinarily be supplemented with publisher-supplied curriculum-embedded tests (when these appear useful) and with teacher-made tests that focus on learning goals that are emphasized in instruction but not in external testing sources.
In addition, learning activities and sources of data other than tests should be used for assessment purposes. Everyday lessons and activities provide opportunities to monitor the progress of the class as a whole and of individual students, and tests can be augmented with performance evaluations such as laboratory tasks and observation checklists, portfolios of student papers or projects, and essays or other assignments that call for higher-order thinking and application. A broad view of assessment helps to ensure that the assessment component includes authentic activities that provide students with opportunities to synthesize and reflect on what they are learning, think critically and creatively about it, and apply it in problem-solving and decision-making contexts.
In general, assessment should be treated as an ongoing and integral part of each instructional unit. Results should be scrutinized to identify learner needs, misunderstandings or misconceptions that may need attention; to suggest potential adjustment in curriculum goals, instructional materials or teaching plans; and to detect weaknesses in the assessment practices themselves.
References: Dempster (1991); Stiggins (1997); Wiggins (1993).