Why Do We Test Students And Give Assessments: An Educator’s Perspective

 In Blog

Assessments. That single word can relay so many thoughts and feelings, especially amidst the Common Core era in which we find ourselves as teachers and learners. But what were assessments originally meant to be? How far back do you want to go?  Should we go back far enough to when IQ tests were first created with a skewed bent for cultural affluence?   Let’s get a little more current.  Why did “No Child Left Behind” add more tests?  Was it to test student or teacher success?  How about today’s Common Core Assessments?  One thing for sure is that there is abundant controversy over the sheer number of tests being given; as well as the content and the fact that teachers are spending valuable class time simply teaching kids to take tests.

So, why do we test students? Shouldn’t we test?

Assessing Assessments

Here are questions to ask yourself about testing. Whether you are a classroom teacher, tutor or homeschool parent, these questions can help you clarify your reason for testing and perhaps even the type of test you choose.

Why do you administer tests?

Are you giving tests to get a numerical grade or do you look at these assessments to find where the student has or hasn’t mastered subject matter?  Or both?

Are student assessments provided by the curriculum valuable?

Exactly what will this assessment tell you about the student’s learning?

Will the assessment work with or against the student’s learning style?

Types of Assessments

An assessment does not need to be only a multiple choice test. There are many ways to adequately assess a student.

Standardized Testing These are helpful in gaging a student’s knowledge and performance with many other students.

Observation Watching how a student applies the material that has been presented can be very telling.

Essays Requiring a high degree of synthesis and application, essays are an excellent means of assessing what the knowledge a student has acquired.

Interviews Asking the student to explain themselves can showcase their mastery.

Performance tasks Giving opportunity for students to apply knowledge is the idea behind performance task assessments. For example, after learning value of money and/or subtraction, a performance task assessment might ask a student to make change from a purchase.

Exhibitions and demonstrations Creating something from information presented can be an excellent means of showing mastery.

Portfolios Portfolios show a student’s work through a variety of assignments. It is like “getting the big picture” of the student’s learning.

Journals Student journaling shows comprehension and personalization of material presented.

Rubrics Rubrics, listed criteria, are useful for teachers and students alike to determine the standards to which a task or skill is to be completed.

Self- and peer-evaluation Teachers are not the only ones who can assess. Much is to be learned by evaluating yourself as well as being reviewed by your peers.

The Conclusion

Assessments are tools. One tool may not be best for every student in every situation. A wise teacher, whether at home or school or as a tutor, has much to consider when selecting the best tool for the job of measuring exactly what a student knows.

List of alternate testing ideas from http://www.edutopia.org/assessment-guide-description

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