Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Assessment

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Assessment

Article excerpt

In this space in November 2009, we discussed how students have been sitting for tests and exams since the 19th century and for examinations since the 17th century. This month, we head back further in time for a look at a still older term: assessment.

Since the early 16th century, educators have been turning to assessments to evaluate learning and progress. The word assessment developed from assessor, a 14th-century coinage that originally referred to an assistant, particularly someone who assisted a judge or magistrate. Assessor was used especially for a person with specialized knowledge of the matter to be decided; it's familiar to us (and to our ancestors) as the job title of a person authorized to assess property for taxation.

Sure, taxes help pay for our education system, but that's not the extent of the link between assessing and learning. Assessor was introduced in the 14th century, assess in the 15th, and assessment followed in the 16th century. …

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