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Active assessment for active learning

Assessment is the evaluation of children's progress toward learning outcomes. It can include testing and quizzes, but it should include much more.

When children learn along many pathways, they bring together work in several topics, their explorations may be deeper and broader than the perspectives afforded by text books.

Comprehensive assessment involves collecting and understanding a wide range of information about children's progress.

Active assessment helps you explore all pathways of learning and all areas of knowledge.

It is important to build the appropriate kinds of assessment into learning activities right from the beginning. To do that, you need to begin by identifying learning outcomes.

The role of assessment
In the classroom, assessment fulfils three main purposes:

  • Assessment informs the learner about learning progress and learning challenges.

    Children can only overcome the obstacles to their learning if they have a clear, and supportive, understanding of the need to focus on specific skills and knowledge.

    (If children fear failure - on tests, in exercises, in verbal recitation - they will avoid the areas where they need to focus.)

  • Assessment informs the teacher about individual achievement.

    Each learner has special abilities and needs. Your assessment practices should help you form a comprehensive picture of each child in your class.

  • Assessment informs the teacher about the effectiveness of teaching practices.

    You should review the results of assessment continually, to determine areas in which the class or a group needs special attention. You can also look for patterns - strengths and weaknesses - in your teaching and in the learning activities that you organise.

Foundations of assessment
Assessment practices should be tied to the objectives that underlie learning activities.

They should also be tied to descriptions of specific learning outcomes. Such descriptions are often called learning standards or objectives, and may be identified for specific subjects, skills, and grade levels.

Key assessment practices

For effective and comprehensive assessment, these practices can be woven into the learning environment, and into your daily, weekly, and quarterly teaching practices.

To learn about how a teacher in the Philippines integrates assessment into her activities, visit the Teacher's Forum.

To read about how a program in Thailand attempts to make positive child-centred improvements, go to The CHILD Project.

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Last revised October, 2001
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