Published on: 30 Oct 2015

Effective assessment is crucial in supporting students to improve their learning

Assessment Blog

The importance of education has never been greater than it is today.

As Andreas Schleicher, the Director for Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said:

“Education needs to prepare students to:

  • Deal with more rapid change than ever before …

o for jobs that have not yet been created
o using technologies that have not yet been invented
o to solve problems that we don’t yet know will arise

It is not about more of the same, but about new….

  • ways of thinking, involving creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and decision making
  • ways of working, including communication and collaboration
  • tools for working, including the capacity to recognise and exploit the potential of new technologies
  • the capacity to live in a multi-faceted world as active and responsible citizens.”

The productivity of our education system is crucial to the wellbeing of our citizens as well as the nation. Central to the effectiveness of our schools is the quality of teaching and learning that is consistently available to all participants. Within the overall arrangement for teaching and learning, assessment is universally acknowledged as playing a vital role.

Effective assessment is crucial in supporting students to improve their learning. It helps students to maximise their potential at different stages of learning, raise their awareness of strengths and areas for development. It also helps to identify crucial actions to be undertaken to improve learning.
While assessments can take many forms, and are used for a variety of purposes, schools overwhelmingly utilise formative and summative approaches. However, over the course of the school year, best practice demands that both methods are used where appropriate in order to support the learning goals of the students. The purpose of formative assessment is to provide regular and frequent feedback on student progress by identifying successful learning as well next steps.

Within formative assessment, quality feedback has a critical role to play. Effective feedback allows students to:

  • Develop self-reflection
  • Increase motivation
  • Take ownership of their own learning
  • Develop self-assessment skills in order to enable them to assess their learning, set specific goals and plan the next steps in their learning
  • Look for and act upon new ideas and opportunities for learning
  • Demonstrate the capacity for innovation and a willingness to take risks
  • Demonstrate a curiosity and interest in learning
  • Set own goals and monitor progress towards them
  • Seek assistance when needed
  • Demonstrate resilience when responding to challenges
  • Be able to work with others in order to resolve conflicts and build consensus
  • Use time appropriately in order to complete tasks
  • Take responsibility for managing their own behaviour

The purpose of formative assessment is to provide regular and frequent feedback to the learner about progress, identifying successful learning as well as actions for further learning gain.

Summative assessments are usually graded tests or assignments that are used in order to determine whether the learner has learned that which was expected, over a given period of time.

Formative assessments offer the student and teacher an extensive range of tools in order to support learning. Formative assessment is much more flexible and more agile than summative.

However, all assessment systems are dependent upon well-qualified and highly motivated teachers.

“Those who cannot assess cannot teach” - Lord Sutherland

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