Basic Concepts in Assessment

By Sharon Allen,2014-10-17 10:31
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Basic Concepts in Assessment

    Basic Concepts in Assessment

    How can we use assessment as a tool to improve our teaching?

Assessments as Tools

     Assessment is a process of observing a sample of students’ behavior

    and drawing inferences about their knowledge and abilities.

     We use a sample of student behavior to draw inferences about

    student achievement.

Forms of Educational Assessment

     Informal vs. formal assessment

     Paper-pencil assessment vs. performance assessment

     Traditional assessment vs. authentic assessment

     Standardized test vs. teacher-developed assessment

Informal vs. formal assessment

     Informal assessments are spontaneous, day-to-day observations of

    students’ performance in class.

     Formal assessment is planned in advance & used for a specific

    purpose to determine what is learned in a specific domain.

Paper-pencil vs. Performance assessment

     Paper-pencil: asks students to respond in writing to questions.

     Performance: asks students to demonstrate knowledge or skills in

    some other fashion. Students perform in some way.

Traditional vs. authentic assessment

     Traditional: assesses basic knowledge & skills separate from real-

    world tasks.

     Authentic: assesses students’ ability to use what they’ve learned in

    tasks similar to those in the outside world.

Standardized test vs. teacher-developed test

     Standardized test: developed by test experts, published for use in

    many schools.

     Teacher-developed tests: developed by a teacher for use in individual


Purposes for assessment

     Formative evaluation: assessing what students know before & during

    instruction. We can redesign lesson plans as needed.

     Summative evaluation: assessment after instruction to determine what

    students have learned, to compute grades.

Promoting learning

     Assessments as motivators

     Assessments as mechanisms for review

     Assessments as influences on cognitive processing- studying more

    effectively for types of test items.

     Assessments as learning experiences

     Assessments as feedback

Qualities of good assessments- RSVP






     The extent to which the instrument gives consistent information about

    the abilities being measured.

     Reliability coefficient- correlation coefficient +1 to -1

Standard error of measurement

     SEM- shows how close a student’s score is to what it should be.

     A true score is the ideal score for a student on a subject based on past


     The test manual will compute common errors in the scoring. Scores

    must be given within this range- the confidence interval.

Enhancing the reliability of classroom assessments

     Use several tasks in each instrument

     Define each task clearly enough so students know what is being asked.

     Use specific, concrete criteria

     Keep expectations out of judgment.

     Avoid assessing a child when s/he is ill, tired, out of sorts in some


     Use the same techniques and environment for assessing all kids.


     The concept that assessment instruments must have similar, consistent

    content, format, & be administered & scored in the same way for


     Standardized tests reduce error in assessment results & are considered

    to be more reliable.


     The extent an instrument measures what it is designed to measure. Content validity- items are representative of skills described Predictive validity- how well an instrument predicts future

    performance. SAT, ACT

     Construct validity- how well an instrument measures an abstract,

    internal characteristic- motivation, intelligence, visual-spatial ability.

Essentials of testing

     An assessment tool may be more valid for some purposes than for


     Reliability is necessary to produce validity.

     But reliability doesn’t guarantee validity.


     The extent to which instruments are easy to use.

     How much time will it take?

     How easily is it administered to a group of children? Are expensive materials needed?

     How much time will it take?

     How easily can performance be evaluated?

Standardized tests

     Criterion-referenced scores show what a student can do in accord with

    certain standards.

     Norm-referenced scores compare a student’s performance with other

    students on the same task.

     Norms are derived from testing large numbers of students.

Types of standardized tests

     Achievement tests- to assess how much students have learned of what

    has been taught

     Scholastic aptitude tests- to assess students capability to learn, to

    predict general academic success.

     Specific aptitude tests- to predict how students are likely to perform in

    a content area.

Technology and Assessment

     Allows adaptive testing

     Can include animation, simulation, videos, audios

     Enables easy assessment of specific problems

     Assesses students’ abilities with varying levels of support

     Provides immediate scoring

Guidelines for choosing standardized tests

     Choose a test with high validity for your purpose & high reliability. Be sure the test’s norm group is relevant to your population.

     Follow directions closely.

Types of test scores

     Raw scores- based on number of correct responses.

     Criterion-referenced scores- compare performance to criteria or

    standards for success.

     Norm-referenced scores- compare student’s performance to the

    average of students the same age.

Norm-referenced scores

    Grade-equivalents and age-equivalents compare a student’s

    performance to the average performance of students at the same age/ grade.

    Percentile ranks- show the percentage of students at the same age/ grade who made lower scores than the individual.

    Standard scores- show how far the individual performance is from the mean by standard deviation units.

Standard scores

     Normal distribution- bell curve


     Standard deviation- variability of a set of scores.

     IQ scores

     ETS scores



Standard deviation

     IQ scores- mean of 100, SD of 15

     ETS scores- (Educational Testing Service tests- SAT, GRE)

    mean of 500, SD of 100

     Stanines- for standardized achievement tests- mean- 5, SD- 2

     z-scores- mean of 0, SD of 1- used statistically

Norm- vs. criterion-referenced scores

     Norm-referenced scores- grading on the curve, based on the class

    average. Sets up a competitive environment, not a sense of community.

    May be used in performance tests- who gets to be first chair in band.

     Criterion-referenced scores show if students have mastered objectives.

Interpreting test scores

     Compare 2 norm-referenced test scores only when those scored come

    from equivalent norm groups.

     Have a clear rationale for cutoff scores for acceptable performance.

     Never use a single test score to make important decisions.

High-stakes testing and accountability

     High-stakes testing- Making major decisions on the basis of a single


     Accountability- holding teachers, administrators responsible for

    students’ performance on those tests.

     Some tests have determined passing a grade or graduation.

    Problems with high-stakes testing

     Tests don’t always show instructional objectives.

     Teachers spend time teaching to the tests.

     Low achievers or special ed students are often not included. Criteria often bias against students from lower SES. Not enough emphasis on helping schools/ students improve.

    Potential solutions to the problems

     Identify what is most important for students to know. Educate the public about what tests scores can do. Look at alternatives to tests.

     Use multiple measures in making high-stakes decisions. Identify what

    is most important for students to know.

     Educate the public about what tests scores can do. Look at alternatives to tests.

     Use multiple measures in making high-stakes decisions.

    Confidentiality & communication of test results

     Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act- limits testing to

    achievement/ scholastic aptitude.

     Restricts test results to students, parents, & teachers.

     Restricts students grading others’ papers, posting scores

    publicly, or going through student papers to find one’s own


     Parents/ students can review test scores & school records.

    Communicating classroom assessment results

     Assessment is primarily to help students learn & achieve more


     Class results must be communicated to parents to enable student


    Explaining standardized test results

     Be sure you understand the test results yourself. It may be sufficient to explain test results in general terms. Use percentile ranks rather than IQ or grade equivalents. Describe the SEM & confidence intervals if you know them.

    Taking student diversity into account

     Developmental differences

     Test anxiety

     Cultural bias

     Language differences


    Accommodating students with special needs

     Modify format of test

     Modify response format

     Modify timing

     Modify setting

     Administering part, not all test

     Use instruments that are more compatible with students’ level

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