Large-scale assessment programs are the foundation for the modern education reform initiative. All types of assessments help to guide improvements in instruction and learning. The most common evaluations that have proven effective are quizzes, tests, and writing assignments. There are also other assessments that teachers use regularly in classrooms. However, few teachers get formal training on the use of design and analysis of assessments. Nevertheless, tests can be made useful when used as a source of information for both students and teachers.
A teacher should consider whether the problems identified are due to the instruction or the assessment when seeing and analyzing the results of an assessment. In addition, teachers should follow assessments with high-quality corrective instruction (Guskey, 2009). Teachers do not have to sacrifice curriculum coverage. Instead, they can effectively offer high-quality corrective instruction benefits. Teachers should also give students second chances to demonstrate the success of the approach that is most helpful to students. In fact, teachers achieve these ideas when dealing with individual students.
The view of assessments is not new and it is important to see assessments as core features of efforts to reform and improve education. The right way of using the tests is as information sources for a broad array of purposes. The perspective should change the way assessment results are used. Teachers ought to consider improving the quality of their classroom assessments, such that these evaluations align with valued learning goals. Teachers should also adapt the tests to state or district standards (Guskey, 2009).
Research shows that teachers should be using learning progressions to interpret the frameworks used for classroom assessment. Teachers can draw information from the learning progression and assessment reports. They may then use the information in identifying areas of instructional improvement (Black & Wiliam, 2010). When such an opportunity is met with the ability to reorganize curriculum materials, teachers are able to use the assessments in ways that are consistent with learning progression. Meanwhile, Furtak, Morrison, and Kroog (2014) indicate that tools alone will not help teachers realize shifts in practice. The teachers need sustained professional development that attends to their understanding of student thinking and the way students learn.
Education reforms have created room for many assessments that populate the job of educators today. Meanwhile, the classroom assessments take time. There is a question of whether the time taken for assessment is productive, given that the frequency of the assessment can be too much. In addition, assessment leads to a lot of data collected on teachers and students, thereby creating another problem of handling the data effectively. Assessments of learning and for learning must be aligned. This ensures students and teachers succeed. Many reports and results of assessments remain limited in their use because they are reviewed in isolation and it takes time between actual assessment and the review process. Moreover, state test data focus on the comparison between groups of students. Therefore, the benefit of using assignments to evaluate students’ gain from one assessment to another is lost (Ainsworth, 2009).
Feedback from state assessments is usually unspecific on the learning needs of individual students and does not provide a clear picture of the students’ understanding to show what the students know and can do. Formative assessments have a predictive value on the summative assessments. Therefore, teams of educators should regularly meet to analyze the results of their formative assessments, and then set up short-term goals for student achievement. The educators can identify common formative assessments as collaboratively designed and administer by grade-level or course teams. The tests are given to all students several times in a quarter, trimester, or a school year basis. The assessments intentionally seek to gauge students’ understanding. Usually, the tests cover the most essential standards only (Ainsworth, 2009).
The number of English language learners (ELLs) has increased at exponential rates in both urban and rural districts. The United States has about 47 million people speaking a language other than English at home. This population makes up most of the English language learners. Schools act as learning expressways, where students are supposed to get up to speed. Slowdown only occurs when students fail grades or test scores and when students leave schools through graduation or dropping out.
Teachers should note that language acquisition takes different processes at different stages so that they can plan effective instructional strategies and assessment formats. The creation of inclusive, welcoming, and supportive conditions of English language learners and their families should be a goal for all school staff. Teachers and school leaders occupy the driving seat for effective assessment of the English language learners and must always realize that students’ conversation ability does not automatically translate into intellectual ability. When instructing and assessing English language learners, educators should consider using small-group settings as these environments encourage academic learning and language proficiency (Almeida, 2009).
Practical strategies may include assessing and activating students prior knowledge before the administration of the assessment and then communicating with students in a clear and concise language and a culturally relevant way for the student and teacher. Also, visual aids, gestures, body movements, and pantomimes should be part of the instruction. It is also helpful to use short and simple sentences while speaking slowly. These principles can be adapted to a school-wide system for success to assist in the continuing educational journal in creating and implementing effective measurements of the learning of the English language (Almeida, 2009).
Assessment of Leadership
Educators must realize that raising achievement is important because it plays a major role in individuals’ and social success. It leads to longer, healthier, and richer lives. These benefits have promoted the search for solutions to underachievement. Recent school effectiveness research has looked at the outputs of schools and the differences in what students know when they join school compared to when they leave school. Reforms have looked at different areas and approach at improving achievement, with some focusing on the structures of schools while others look at teacher subject knowledge. It seems like the most important difference in most effective and least effective classrooms is the teacher. The difference arises in what the teachers know and not what they do. The most important thing to change in teacher’s practice is the minute-to-minute and day-to-day use of assessments (Wiliam, 2009).
Meanwhile, formative assessments help to improve schools’ performance in a cost-effective way. Formative assessment systems offer evidence about student achievement, which is useful for adapting instruction to meet student-learning needs better. The formative assessments play a major role in monitoring student achievement and meeting the requirement of effective monitoring systems, which are a means of taking student progress over the medium term. Rather than just follow these systems because they are claimed to be effective, it is important to look at what actually goes on inside the classroom.
Teaching is adaptive to the student’s learning needs and the formative assessment happens in real time. Students and teachers have mutual roles to play in formative assessment. In addition, formative assessments will succeed when they are used to provide feedback that moves learners forward, activate students as owners of their learning, and activate students and instructional resources for one another. The tests should also clarify learning intentions and share criteria for success. In addition, a key strategy for effective formative assessment is to engineer classroom discussions, questions and learning tasks to elicit evidence of learning (Wiliam, 2009).
Unfortunately, the practices that are effective have to go through lengthy and bureaucratic traditions of review to be adopted. Besides, the transition of leaders in education is very fast to provide room for lasting reforms. In the end, teacher-learning communities that help with adoption of formative assessment can be sustained by gradualism, flexibility, accountability, support, and choice.
Due to the effect of assessment, teachers have been able to alter their teaching structure to ensure that student achievement improves. However, when the concept moves from an individual perspective to a system-wide application, problems arise as incumbent systems and processes fail to provide room for appropriate reforms. Additionally, wrong focus and uses of assessment have also failed to recognize students’ input on the information that should guide education reforms. Nevertheless, emerging evidence continues to strengthen the view that day-to-day teaching practices and student achievement have a higher capability of realizing improvements in student achievement.
Ainsworth, L. (2009). Common formative assessments: The centerpiece of an integrated standards-based assessment system. In D. B. Reeves (Ed.), Ahead of the curve: The power of assessments to transform teaching and learning (pp. 71-102). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Almeida, L. (2009). The journey toward effective assessment for English language learners. In D. B. Reeves (Ed.), Ahead of the curve: The power of assessments to transform teaching and learning (pp. 147-164). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2010). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(1), 81-90.
Furtak, E. M., Morrison, D., & Kroog, H. (2014). Investigating the link between learning proressions and classroom assessment. Science Education, 98(4), 640-673.
Guskey, T. R. (2009). Using assessments to improve teaching and learning. In D. B. Reeves (Ed.), Ahead of the curve: The power of assessment to transform teaching and learning (pp. 15-30). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Wiliam, D. (2009). Content then process: Teacher learning communities in the service of formative assessment. In D. B. Reeves (Ed.), Ahead of the curve: The power of assessments to transform teaching and learning (pp. 183-206). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.