Assessment Education Perspectives

Five Key Traits that Every Assessment Should Possess

Five Key Traits that Every Assessment Should Possess

involves understanding that assessments are designed to provide teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders the information needed to make decisions that will support students on their educational paths. Validity, reliability, fairness, student engagement, and consequential relevance are key traits of high-quality educational assessment, whether large-scale, end-of-year, or classroom-based.

Whether you are providing input on an assessment decision or creating an assessment yourself, these traits are important to keep in mind:

  1. Content validity. The assessment measures only what it is supposed to measure: the intended learning targets. The assessment enables students and teachers to make accurate inferences about what the student understands, knows, and can do.
  1. Reliability. Reliability is concerned with making sure that different test forms in a single administration are equivalent; that retests of a given test are equivalent to the original test; and that test difficulty remains constant year to year, administration to administration.
  1. Fairness. All students regardless of their individual characteristics have the same chance to show what they understand, know or can do. Nothing about the assessment is systematically unfair to a group of students based on gender, culture, geographical location, linguistic heritage, physical capabilities, etc.
  1. Student engagement and motivation. The assessment provides an accurate picture of what students understand, know and can do because students are motivated to produce their best work. Communicating with students, including what the test is for and how the results will be used, is essential for engaging them in the process.
  1. Consequential relevance. The usefulness of the assessment results justifies the investment of time and effort in administering and scoring the assessment, and then understanding and meaningfully applying the information to adjust instruction and better support student learning.

We could probably write an additional blog on each of these points – especially the last one. The value of any assessment is in the decisions it enables educators to make based on useful results. Sound assessment is always intended as a tool for enhancing teaching and, ultimately, learning. When one of the key traits is missing – such as student engagement or consequential relevance – the assessment purpose can be called into question. What have you seen in your school – does your assessment system have these five qualities? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter (@Assess2Learn).