In our last couple of blog posts, we’ve shared two of the four conditions that Stiggins and Chappuis say must be met to ensure the effective use of student-involved classroom assessment. These were discussed at length in their article – Using Student-Involved Classroom Assessment to Close Achievement Gaps.
- Condition One: Assessment development must always be driven by a clearly articulated purpose.
- Condition Two: Assessments must arise from and accurately reflect clearly specified and appropriate achievement expectations.
Condition Three: Assessment methods used must be capable of accurately reflecting the intended targets and are used as teaching tools along the way to proficiency.
There are any number of assessment tactics, strategies, or techniques that can help teachers determine student proficiency on intended learning targets. From multiple choice to written responses to one-on-one teacher-student communication, there are ways teachers can assess proficiency, but at any given time there are also factors that can lead to inaccurate assessment. As Stiggins and Chappuis extoll:
…all assessments rely on a relatively small number of exercises to permit the user to draw inferences about a student’s mastery of larger domains of achievement. Accurate assessments rely on a representative sample of all those possibilities that is large enough to yield dependable inferences about how the respondent would have done if given all possible exercises.
But even if we devise clear achievement targets, transform them into proper assessment methods, and sample student performance appropriately, there are still factors that can cause a student’s score on a test to misrepresent his or her real achievement. Problems can arise from the test, the student, or the environment where the test is administered.
If assessment is a support for learning, every activity, task, discussion, or assessment we ask learners to engage in has to be connected to what they need to know and be able to do. Teachers need to be clear on the destination, or learning targets. This idea also means that every activity we engage students in is aligned to the learning targets and supports students in learning what they need to meet the stated success criteria. Simply put, assessment results need to be accurate.