The Role of Assessment in the Learning Journey

The Role of Assessment in the Learning Journey
The Role of Assessment in the Learning Journey

Assessment - a word that strikes fear in many a heart. When most of us hear the 'a' word, we might think "test" or "grade" or "high stakes". Instead we prefer to think of assessment as a tool for learning.

At ISK, we have a clear definition of what we mean by assessment:

Assessment is the continuous process of gathering, analysing and interpreting evidence so students and teachers can make informed decisions that enhance student learning.

The key word here is 'continuous'. Assessment is not something that happens only on one or two days, rather teachers are always assessing student understanding and growth as well as determining the next steps for each student. This can sometimes be confusing if one is not accustomed to this type of learning. Parents and students often only care about the 'grade on the test' when, in reality if we think of learning as a journey and assessments help us know how we are progressing on this journey. This is what we mean by assessment FOR learning.

Below are a few frequently asked questions about assessments at ISK:

(from Cambridge Assessment International Education)

'Are assessment and testing the same thing?'

There are lots of different ways to assess a learner. This includes formal testing. However, a teacher will use a variety of formal and informal assessment activities throughout the learning process. Any activity which checks how well a student is learning is assessing that student's learning. Information from these assessment activities is used to adapt teaching and learning approaches, which leads to improvements in learner outcomes.

'Examinations are the only type of assessment that matter'

Learners need to take formal exams to get qualifications to progress through their education. Assessment for learning gives teachers more information throughout the year. One of the results of regular assessment and feedback is that it helps students to do better in summative assessment. The two are linked and both inform future learning.

'Should work always be given a grade or mark?'

In some circumstances, a grade will be given as part of teacher feedback. However, research suggests that learners will often just read the grade and ignore the comments. Where teachers want to give a grade, they often find it more effective for students to read feedback and comments first, and then edit their work before they see a grade.

Want to know more? Watch this video from renowned assessment expert Dylan Wiliam