What Makes a Good Classroom Assessment?

By Mayflor Markusic

A good assessment can be useful in many ways. It improves classroom instruction, fosters active student involvement, and provides skilled teacher direction.

Assessment improves instruction in the classroom in many ways. Through assessment, the teacher can monitor the academic progress of the students. Through assessment, the teacher will be alerted to certain learning difficulties. Then, subsequent assessment can diagnose the full nature of the learning problem. And through assessment, the students will be encouraged to learn. Assessment could not fulfill all these roles if it is of poor quality.

Typical Characteristics

Good classroom assessment eventually leads to improved teaching. And improved teaching means better academic performance of the students. To ensure that good assessment methods are utilized, the teachers must determine if these characteristics are met.

  • Active student involvement – The involvement of students in assessment is not limited to the role of recipients. The students must contribute to the planning of the assessment. This implies that the coverage of a test is not solely determined by the textbook or by the teacher’s knowledge. The coverage of the test must include information that was gathered and analyzed by the students.
  • Skilled teacher direction – Although students participate in planning some aspects of the assessment, the teacher holds the wheel in navigating the assessment procedures. It is the classroom teacher who has required the professional training to decide how to carry out the assessment and how to deal with the results of the assessment. In the same vein, outsiders should not direct assessment. It is the teacher who intimately knows the situation in the classroom.
  • Constructive – The assessment should provide constructive information for both the teacher and the students. Assessments should not be used to threaten students with grades. And assessments should not be used to threaten teachers with scores. On the contrary, assessments should be used to inspire students to perform better. Assessments should be used to identify learning difficulties so that these difficulties can be addressed and overcome. And assessments should be used to help the teacher in improving his/her teaching techniques.
  • Purpose-driven – The assessment should be able to fulfill its purpose. If it is a summative type of assessment, then all steps must be taken to ensure that the results will be valid and reliable and the scoring will be objective and free from any bias. If it is a formative type of assessment, then the results must be utilized to improve the teaching and learning process. The scores from formative tests do not end up as grades but as figurative arrows that will guide teachers on how to proceed with the classroom instruction. Thus, formative assessment is, by nature, continuous.