Monitoring student progress: To use a published test or teacher developed tests

Year: 2001

Author: Silis, Gina, Izard, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper, we discuss a number of ways of monitoring student progress. Student assessment of educational progress is important as a way of certifying that standards have been reached, of informing the student (and parents) of progress made, and of providing evidence to inform teaching decisions. Curriculum statements describe intentions: without valid student assessment practices the actual achievements are never compared in a legitimate way with the intentions. Valid student assessments provide information for teachers on the learning progress of each student, for quality assurance for certification of school achievement or professional recognition, for informing management, and for evaluation of innovations and interventions.

There are four main issues to be considered with respect to achievement of curriculum intentions in education. The first is the degree of trust that other members of the education community and the general public are willing to place in the various achievements certified by the Education system. The second concerns the relevance of the assessment strategies for their purpose. The third concerns the quality of the available assessment strategies. The quality of assessment for monitoring progress is compromised if there are insufficient items to show curriculum effectiveness, inappropriate statistics for reporting, if valid measures of change are lacking, and if there is a shortage of assessment expertise. More testing may not be a solution since additional time devoted to testing detracts from time for teaching and may duplicate effort. The fourth issue concerns the availability of assessment expertise. At least two types of expertise are required: test development and publication in a teacher-friendly mode, and teacher expertise to interpret the assessment evidence provided and take the appropriate steps to improve student learning.