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Why are assessments necessary?

Posted by Hlengiwe Zwane on 05 September 2022, 10:55 SAST
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Assessments are a crucial part of today’s educational system. Assessments serve as an individual evaluation system and as a way to compare performance across a spectrum and populations. However, with so many different types of assessments for many different organisations available (and often required) these days, it can sometimes be hard to keep the real purpose of assessing in sight.

What is the purpose of assessments?

The purpose of assessment is to gather relevant information about student performance or progress, to determine a student's interests and to make judgments about their learning process. After receiving this information, teachers can reflect on each student’s level of achievement, as well as on specific inclinations of the group, to customise their teaching plans.

Continuous assessments provide day-to-day feedback about the learning and teaching process. Assessment can reinforce the efficacy of teaching and learning. It also encourages the understanding of teaching as a formative process that evolves with feedback and input from students. This creates good classroom rapport. Student assessments are necessary because:

  • Throughout a lesson or unit, the teacher might want to check for understanding by using a formative assessment.

  • Students who are experiencing difficulties in learning may benefit from the administration of a diagnostic test, which will be able to detect learning issues such as reading comprehension problems, an inability to remember written or spoken words, hearing or speech difficulties, and problems with hand-eye coordination.

  • Students generally complete a summative assessment after completing the study of a topic. The teacher can determine their level of achievement and provide them with feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. For students who didn’t master the subject or skill, teachers can use data from the assessment to create a remediation plan.

  • Teachers may also want to use informal assessment techniques. Using self-assessment, students express their thoughts about their learning process and what they should work on. Using peer assessment, students get information from their classmates about what areas they should revise and what areas they’re good at.

Some standardised assessment procedures are designed to compare the academic achievement of students from different schools, nationwide or worldwide. The next time you set up an assessment, think of the following:

Do you understand what its purpose is?

What are you testing?

Who is it testing?

What entity will the results be reported to?

Understanding the makeup of each assessment you give will help you better prepare your students to match up to it.

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