The general education landscape is always changing, from the methods of instruction all the way to how learning assessments are performed. Testing student achievement requires using both new and historical education data appropriately. It’s important for educators, students, and the education industry to stay up to date with these shifting requirements.
What are education assessments?
According to the glossary of education reform, “The term assessment refers to the wide variety of methods or tools that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document the academic readiness, learning progress, skill acquisition, or educational needs of students.”
Tests are often used to measure a specific data point, which may include comprehension, math competency skills, and other specific components of educational progress. Here are some of the most common types of assessments that teachers use to determine where their students are in their learning journey:
- Diagnostic: This test occurs before the lesson plan and student learning actually begins, giving the instructor a chance to see where the student’s starting point.
- Formative: The next kind of performance assessment happens during the learning process and should inform the teacher where the student excels or struggles.
- Summative: Following the timeline, the summative assessment happens after education is complete. It should tell the instructor how well the test-taker knows the material and if the lesson had successful outcomes.
How we can improve education assessments
For many years, these assessments were administered using a standardized test. In American education, assessments are often traditional and equated with tools like Scantron, locked test screens, and other typical test-taking strategies. Most teachers and students are aware of standardized tests, which is an assessment where each question is the same for every student. This kind of education assessment grew in popularity because it can be simpler to compare students’ results, outcomes, and performance.
Standardized tests are taken from kindergarten all the way to higher education. The average test-taker is most likely familiar with standardized tests, including English language learners and special education assessments. However, educators are not as happy with standardized tests as they once were, citing the results as problematic. This is due to the fact that many of these tests don’t accurately measure student performance.
There is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to measuring learning and success. Teachers and educators across the nation are calling for us to rethink data collection as it pertains to learning development. This could transform the rest of the learning process because teachers can obtain a better understanding of how to improve their students’ needs. Here are some student assessment topics Agile Education cites as being important when trying to improve tests and the comprehensive assessment system:
- No Zero
- Student Retakes
- Testing Demands
- Deeper Learning Models
- Formative Assessment
Every school district and school has its own specific issues and areas that need to be addressed by educational assessment changes.
Learning from the past to move forward
America has a long and storied past when it comes to measuring learning ability in the classroom. Even though the goal has always been to have an effective and equitable assessment system, that was not the result.
In 2001, standardized assessments became required in all K-12 schools after the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 was changed to the No Child Left Behind Act. Even though the goal of this change was to level the playing field, “federally required assessments are at times criticized because America’s students have made little progress since 2001 and their results correlate with race and socioeconomic status,” according to the Center for American Progress.
Those who dislike standardized testing point to the fact that the tests are not designed to give ongoing, daily data but instead focus on end-of-the-year results. We can learn from these mistakes to craft a more effective assessment system that gives high-quality information and outcomes reliably to instructors.
It’s not easy to make an equitable system when there’s such a wide range of schools in the American education system. However, collecting student data is vital when it comes to pushing students to do their best and for educators to teach them effectively.
Need a little external support in the meantime when it comes to education assessments? Reach out to Agile Education to get the help you need and deserve.