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The Importance of Assessment in Education

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Assessment
Assessment of students in education has been a hot topic of debate in today’s worlds. The importance of assessment cannot be questioned, but the way assessment is conducted to students’ is another topic. Assessment provides opportunity for the students as well as the teachers to engage themselves in academics and to engage in self- reflection of their learning goals. It also enables the teachers to assess the degree in which these goals can correspond to the student’s need. Assessment test also provides information to students about their progress, skills and attributes that they need to possess. There are basically three main types of educational assessment: formal, alternative and informal. Formal assessment is the standardized test and the use of this type of test has been broadly discussed by academicians. The implementations of more narrow tests, limited to a multiple-choice format, have been found to exert pressures to reduce the curriculum to subjects and modes of performance that are tested. It is also important to encourage less focus on complex reasoning and performance to evaluate the student’s achievements. It should also be noted that assessments designed for a specific purpose cannot be valid for other purposes. Assessments should be designed to suit to the specific needs of the students and it should be reliable, valid and non bias.
In any teaching methodology, it is crucial to adopt a good assessment to assess the students. I believe that for assessment should bring about benefits for the students and to improve the quality of the educational program. Using both formal and informal type of assessment to measure the student’s progress is best in educational background. Both formal and informal assessment has its own merits and demerits. The purpose of implementing a classroom assessment system is to improve instruction and student achievement as such it is important to choose the right type of assessment in the classroom. It is a fact that no matter how well constructed an assessment is, there is a concern that such test results are not implemented in an appropriate ways to benefit the students. In today’s world of diverse student population in America which compromise of students from all walks of life – minority students, low –income families, students with English as a second language and backward students, it is important to use assessment tests which will benefit students from all these backgrounds.
Standardized test has its own purposes, advantages and disadvantages. Standardized assessment is a good assessment to be implemented to the student to determine their strength and weaknesses. It also evaluates the student’s achievement by comparing their progress with other students. It is appropriate to use standardized assessment to indentify the student’s special needs and it can also improve learning at an individual level for young English language learners. However, standardized test has its own demerits. Many scholars are questioning the validity and accessibility of the test, students who have no control of the quality of education they receive are the ones held most accountable – and punished most severely and repeatedly for the failures of the system in which they are trapped. That there has been little outcry is undoubtedly linked to the fact that the victims are overwhelming poor children of color, viewed as expendable and undeserving of serious investment (Hammond, 2010, p.79). Standardized test is beneficial in many situations but it also fails to measure the student’s progress adequately.
Similarly, informal assessments also have their own advantage as well as disadvantage. The downside of using an informal assessment test is that the teachers have to rely heavily on the student’s to do his / her work. The reality is that many students fail to do their homework and this can hamper the assessment. Another disadvantage is that in this type of assessment, a student relies heavily in the use of books and other aid to complete his/ her homework. When a student relies on books and other aid to complete the homework, the knowledge that they acquire is not reliable as they often failed to understand the topic. The student’s knowledge is not coming from what he/ she remembers but rather on the books or other informations from where the topic is gathered. But, on the other hand, informal assessment provides the students with a wide variety of choices and it also enable the teachers to keep a track of the student’s performance on a regular basis. Informal assessments also enable the students to see their academic progress in a more systematic manner.
Keeping both the advantages and disadvantages of standardized tests and informal assessment, I believe that it is pivotal to balance the two types of assessment. It is crucial for teachers to learn about the benefits of these tests and implement the best assessment for their students. Assessment should be age and linguistically appropriate for the student. Research should be thoroughly conducted on the basis of the student ability. There are many factors that need to be kept in mind while selecting educational assessments for students. Language barriers and educational background factors are the main factors. In the first factors, language barrier factors, different issue like different linguistics background, Levels of proficiency in English, and levels of proficiency of native languages are the three main barriers that should be addressed in the assessment. In the educational background factors issues such as degrees of formal schooling in native languages, degrees of formal schoolings in English language, and exposure to standardized testing should be addressed in the assessment. While administering an educational assessment, it crucial for the classroom teacher to provide the English Language Learning students with fair and appropriate assessments while keeping in mind the various factors that could hamper their academic growth. Overall, it should be kept in mind that assessment should be done to benefit the student and to provide adequate as well as fair assessment to the students.

Reference List
Hammond, D. (2010). The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity will determine Our Future. NY: Teachers College Press. Education Review.University of Southern Mississippi. Retrieved on Jan 18, 2012 from http://www.edrev.info/reviews/rev1063.pdf
Smith, D. (2001). Is Too Much Riding on High-Stakes Tests? American Psychological
Association. Retrieved on Jan 18, 2012 from http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec01/highstakes.aspx