Assessment and Evaluation The primary purpose of assessment and


The primary purpose of assessment and evaluation is to improve student learning. Information gathered through assessment helps teachers to determine students’ strengths and needs in their achievement of the curriculum expectations in each course. This information also serves to guide teachers in adapting curriculum and instructional approaches to students’ needs and in assessing the overall effectiveness of programs and classroom practices.

In order to ensure this primary purpose, assessment and evaluation must:

be communicated clearly to students (and/or parents if applicable) at the beginning of the course and at other appropriate points throughout the course;

address both what students learn and how well they learn;

be based both on the categories of knowledge and skills and on the achievement level descriptions given in the achievement chart;

be varied in nature, administered over a period of time, and designed to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate the full range of their learning;

be appropriate for the learning activities used, the purposes of instruction, and the needs and experiences of the students;

be clear, consistent, and meaningful;

accommodate the needs of exceptional students consistent with their IEP;

provide ongoing feedback through formative assessment to give each student clear directions for improvement;

provide valuable feedback to teachers, students, (and/or parents if applicable) about how to improve learning and teaching;

promote students’ ability to assess their own learning and to set specific goals;

include the use of samples of students’ work that provide evidence of their achievement.

As professional educators who value the importance of student assessment and evaluation, we must always bear three goals in mind:

To improve student learning for all students.

To develop greater consistency in assessment and evaluation practice

To provide clarity in reporting to students and their families.



Assessment comes from the Latin “assidere” meaning “to sit beside”. With student learning and achievement at the heart of teacher practice and “assessor” or “coach” as our primary role, we must create a culture of assessment and evaluation with learning and achievement at its core. We must move from a mindset fixated on assessment/evaluation OF learning, to the a more student-success focused culture of assessment/evaluation FOR learning. The shift to assessment FOR learning involves a move:

FROM norm-referenced assessment TO criterion-referenced assessment;

FROM teacher as judge TO teacher as coach, facilitator, and, eventually, judge;

FROM methods such as tests, quizzes and final exams that focused on facts and content TO expanding assessment methods to allow students to demonstrate their highest level of performance;

FROM marking all student work TO reducing amount marked and improving feedback by monitoring and reviewing selected samples of student work that provide evidence of achievement at particular levels and by providing feedback in relation to the rubric or criteria;

FROM one isolated opportunity to demonstrate key learnings TO multiple chances to demonstrate key learnings;

FROM students finding out criteria/marking scheme when task was returned TO providing criteria at the beginning of learning tasks;

FROM assessing what students did not know TO assessing what students know and can demonstrate

FROM feedback given mostly on a formal “report card” TO on- going oral and written feedback.

It is these shifts that will keep our efforts focused on student learning and achievement from lesson to lesson, class to class, year to year.

The paradigm shift to the practice of Assessment FOR learning is of paramount importance. Sound assessment practices will thereby serve to keep the focus of teacher instruction on “learning for all”. When teachers and administrators embrace this concept, student success becomes a preventative rather than a reactive process.

If the goal of an assessment system is to educate, to improve performance on difficult tasks, then getting students to self-assess and self-adjust their performance effectively is key. No task is mastered the first time out; no one has twenty-four hour access to coaches or content knowledge. Instead, we should routinely assess students’ ability to perform on complex tasks at the heart of each subject, scaffolding the task as needed . . . .

Assessment for Learning is Everyone’s Responsibility. The teacher ultimately is responsible for the assessment/evaluation of student work; students, parents and principals also have a part to play in this responsibility. Together they can complete an accurate picture of how students are achieving at any given time.

The PRINCIPAL

The Principal works in partnership with teachers and parents to ensure that each student has access to the best possible educational experience. To support student learning, principals ensure that the appropriate curriculum is being properly implemented in all classrooms using a variety of instructional approaches. They also ensure that appropriate resources are made available for teachers and students. Principals are responsible for ensuring that every student is receiving the modifications and/or accommodations they need thereby ensuring that they can achieve to their highest potential.

The TEACHER

The Teacher and students have complementary responsibilities. The Teacher is responsible for developing appropriate instructional strategies to help students achieve the curriculum expectations for their courses, as for developing appropriate methods for assessing/evaluating student learning. Teachers also support students in their courses. Teachers bring enthusiasm and varied teaching and assessment approaches to the classroom, addressing different student needs and ensuring sound learning opportunities for every student. Using a variety of instructional, assessment, and evaluation strategies, the teacher provides numerous opportunities for students to develop skills of inquiry, problem solving, and communication as they investigate and learn fundamental concepts.

The PARENTS

The Parents have an important role to play in supporting student learning. Studies show that students perform better in school if their parents or guardians are involved in their education. By becoming familiar with the curriculum, parents can find out what is being taught in the courses their children are taking and what their children are expected to learn. This awareness will enhance parents’ ability to discuss their children’s work with them, to communicate with teachers, and to ask relevant questions about their children’s progress.

The STUDENTS

The Students have many responsibilities with respect to their learning in school. Students who make the effort required and who apply themselves will soon discover that there is a direct relationship between this effort and their achievement. Taking responsibility for one’s progress and learning is an important part of education for all students. Successful mastery of concepts and skills in any subject requires a sincere commitment to work and study. Students are expected to develop strategies and processes that facilitate learning arid understanding in their courses. A Few Assessment Tools Assessment ToolWhat Is It'How Is It used'What does it look like'Why would one use it' Rubric•A measure of student achievement following a set of clear guidelines •Descriptions of clear performance criteria for each level •Based upon criterion referenced standards •Levels of quality used to assess student work •Scales which use brief statements based on criteria to describe the levels of achievement of a process product, and/or performance•For all types of assessment •For holistic and analytical scoring •For clear communication of student performance •To assess complex tasks•Follow the format of the achievement chart •Include one or more category of the achievement chart •Use qualifiers from the achievement chart •Clear concise criteria •Brief descriptors for each level of achievement•Guides to student learning •Used to promote reliability in assessment •To enhance the efficient use of teacher time •To outline criteria clearly •To provide more informative feedback about strengths, weaknesses and next steps •To ensure accountability for student achievement of expectations Checklist•Assessment instruments that record the presence or absence of an expected concept, skill process, attitude •Based on criteria to be looked for and assessed in the completion of a task •Teacher-made lists based on content and/or processes of knowledge, skills, or attitudes •Student-made lists that are the initial step in completion of a project •Employer-made lists that can reflect expectations for performance in a specific occupational area of criteria, which allows the teacher to judge performance product, attitude and/or behaviour along a continuum •Assess the extent to which specific facts, skills, attitudes, and/or behaviours are observed in a student´s work or performance •When a specific task or function can be predetermined •Should focus on individual tasks rather than multiple tasks within one item •When the process or product can be broken into components that are judged to be present or absent, adequate or inadequate •Record the frequency or even the degree to which a student exhibits a characteristic •Describe performance along a continuum •Record the range of student achievement in relation to specific behaviours•Checklists contain a number or bulleted list of key attributes of good performance to be assessed. They can contain a space for entry (yes, no, etc.) or space holders (------) that may be placed before a descriptor for indication by checkmark or circling •Quick and useful for large numbers of criteria •Provide a list of key attributes of good performance that are checked as either present or absent •To indicate if something has occurred Assessment ToolWhat Is It'How Is It used'What does it look like'Why would one use it' Rating Scale•Rating scales are simple tools for assessing performance on a several point scale ranging from low to high, which may have as few as 3 points or as many as 10 points •Rating scales are based on a set of criteria, which allows the teacher to judge performance product, attitude and/or behaviour along a continuum •Assess the extent to which specific facts, skills, attitudes, and/or behaviours are observed in a student´s work or performance •Provide detailed diagnostic information on a student´s performance, product, and attitude in reference to presented criteria •Record the frequency or even the degree to which a student exhibits a characteristic •Describe performance along a continuum •Record the range of student achievement in relation to specific behaviours•Be analytical or holistic •Use statements to rank describe or identify criteria •Contain a numbered or bulleted list of key attributes of good performance to be assessed •Contain a space for entry ( ) or space holder (---- ) to indicate frequency or attainment on a continuum•To assess a single performance •To judge the quality of a performance Marking Scheme•A set of criteria by which a student´s work is evaluated•To quantify student responses•Criteria linked directly to question •Values of expected outcomes•Selected and constructed responses Anecdotal Record•Short written narratives which describe both student behaviour and the context in which it has occurred •These descriptions which should be related to observed behaviours are often used to supplement data gathered from other assessment strategies. •Provide an ongoing record of written observations of individual student progress •Provide a rich portrait of student performance because they state in concise language what has actually occurred •Interpret student achievement only after multiple observations over time •Record information accurately and objectively during an event (or soon after) •Record observations related to planned and specific goals, which are considered important •May take a variety of forms. •Record brief comments and stick onto student records. •Record comments on a Palm Pilot which can then be transferred directly to class computer records •Draw grid lines (vertical and horizontal) on an open-faced file folder. Provide one vertical column for each student in the class •Write comments on sticky notes, then place them on the appropriate cell(s) on the grid •Record comments on reverse of student´s assessment record page in teacher assessment binder•Useful observations which often cannot easily be obtained using other assessment strategies. While these narratives are sometimes time-consuming to read, write, and interpret, they can, over time, provide a rich portrait of individual student achievement.

Selected References

O’Connor, Ken. How to Grade for Learning. Pearson Education, 2002.

Wiggins, G., and McTighe, J. Understanding by Design. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1998.

Ontario Ministry of Education Documents available at – http://www.edu.gov.on.ca

Program Planning and Assessment, 2000