Purposes in Learner Assessment

By Ediger, Marlow | Journal of Instructional Psychology, December 2000 | Go to article overview
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Purposes in Learner Assessment

Ediger, Marlow, Journal of Instructional Psychology

There are a plethora of ways that pupils may to assessed to notice achievement. Certainly, assessment is a major topic for discussion in the educational arena. There seemingly is much testing to notice pupil progress. With diverse means of attempting to ascertain achievement, it behooves teachers, administrators, parents, and support staff to be able to use test results to implement a quality curriculum based on needs and interests of pupils. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate uses that can be made of different kinds of tests given to determine pupil achievement.

Standardized Achievement Tests

Many school systems and selected states in the United States give standardized tests to pupils. Seemingly, there are numerous weaknesses in giving this type of test to pupils to measure achievement. First of all, validity is lacking in that pupils have not had the opportunities to learn what is contained in the test in terms of subject matter to be assessed in. Thus, there are no accompanying objectives for teachers to use in teaching so that pupils may reveal what has been learned as a result of instruction. Teachers then need to hypothesize and listen to other educators discuss, from having given the test to pupils, as to what might have been contained therein in terms of subject matter content. There are no objectives for educators to gauge their own teaching as benchmarks (Ediger, 1996, 3-25).

A major goal of achievement test writers is to spread pupils out from high to low or from the ninetieth percentile to the first percentile. In pilot studies made, a good test item is gotten right by those high on the total test. A mediocre test item is one that pupils got right and who were low on the total test. Popham (1999) writes that "the better the job that educators do in teaching important knowledge and skills, the less likely it is that there will be items on a standardized achievement test measuring such knowledge and skills." This is due to to taking out items, from pilot studies, to which most pupils responded correctly. Important test items may then be removed from a standardized test due to not discriminating the "right way" in pilot studies. Popham goes on to write about three kinds of test items that appear on standardized tests. The first kind deal with test items that do attempt to measure achievement in the academic discipline being or having been taught in school. This is the way it should be. However, there are also test items on a standardized test that measure native intelligence, as well as those test items that measure previous opportunities to learn which definitely favors pupils who come from higher socioeconomic levels (Ediger, 1999, Chapter Nine).

Verbal intelligence is emphasized in written test items. Thus reading and writing are largely stressed in test taking. Gardner (1993) emphasizes the importance of eight intelligences that pupils possess and verbal/ linguistic intelligence is one of these intelligences. Not all pupils reveal what has been learned through verbal/linguistic intelligence as being as possessing the major way to indicate learning. Gardner (1993) also lists the following:

1. logical/mathematical whereby a pupil may show his/her strengths in learning through these ways, regardless of subject matter acquired.

2. visual/spatial in which pupils excel in art work to indicate achievement of objectives stressed in teaching.

3. musical whereby a pupil indicates achievement of subject matter through the medium of musical endeavors.

4. bodily/kinesthetic indicating strengths in physical education, dance, and movement experiences to indicate what has been learned.

5. interpersonal intelligence where by a pupil reveals achievement best within group or collaborative endeavors.

6. intrapersonal intelligence which tends to stress more optimal achievement of pupils when learning on an individual basis.


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