Historically, student assessments incorporated mostly end of topic exams, with an emphasis on determining the quantity of information learnt. More recently there has been a shift in the focus of assessment towards “assessment for learning” as opposed to the traditional “assessment of learning” (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010). The benefit of using this approach is that the results obtained are centred on capturing students existing understanding with a view to implementing strategies to increase knowledge and skill levels.
Assessing students’ knowledge is generally achieved by gathering information using formative and summative assessments. Formative assessment is the evaluation of students’ knowledge, with the aim to determine what gaps are present in the student’s existing comprehension, this information is used to structure future lesson plans so that they best achieve desired learning outcomes (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010). Summative assessment is done with a view to determining students post lesson comprehension. Both assessments may use either informal or formal assessments and in some cases a combination of both (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).
Informal assessments generally encompass a number of appraisal strategies completed within the classroom, including; adhoc observations of student performances, participation during lessons and throughout group work. Informal assessment is an important step in the teaching process as it allows teachers to determine students’ comprehension levels and develop specifically targeted lesson plans (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010). Informal assessment however, should be used as a guide only, as results gathered can be somewhat ambiguous and making judgements based on one incident can be misleading, hence a more formal assessment should be made prior to making significant decisions based on the data gathered (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).
Formal assessment on the other hand is a much more controlled process, which is effective in gathering more accurate information pertaining to a student’s level of understanding. Formal assessments entail more structured methods of measurement and typically have both positive and negative aspects, for ease of review some of the more popular strategies and there attributes have been outlined in the table below (Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).
(Eggen, P., Kauchak, D., 2010).
All government schools within Australia use the Outcomes and Standards Framework with a view to, assess and evaluate each child’s progress and implement improvement strategies and monitor performance of each school as a whole. In order for assessment to be a beneficial process it should, assist in establishing student current knowledge levels, improve students’ learning and increase the effectiveness of teaching practices (The Department of Education and Training 2010).. Western Australia’s Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Policy provide the following guidelines for reporting of assessment outcomes;
a) Results are written in plain English, are easy to read by parents and guardians
b) Compare results to that of other students when using standard testing
c) Include an assessment of each students achievements
d) Use the A, B, C, D, E point scale (The Department of Education and Training 2010).
(Department of Training and Education, 2010)
With the implementation of standardised testing throughout Australia, the method of school based assessment and reporting has changed substantially. Students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 undergo testing in the areas of Literacy and Numeracy. It is the aim of the National Assessment Program (NAPLAN), to provide comprehensive information on how students and schools compare throughout the nation. This data is feedback to students, teachers and parents and will now be available, as of today, on the My School website http://www.myschool.edu.au/ which has been developed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).
CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING
Eggen, P. and Kauchak, D. (2010). Educational Psychology: Windows on Classrooms. New Jersey: Pearson.
National Assessment Program. Literacy and Numeracy.
Retrieved January 22nd 2010,
The Department of Education and Training, (2010). Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting. Perth: Government of Western Australia.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, (2010). My School.
Retrieved January 28th 2010,