Assessment Literacy – Information for Teachers Interested in Issues of Language Assessment
Assessment procedures should be used to achieve three main purposes:
- Providing end-of-term grading or certification (summative evaluation)
- Providing information on the learner’s strengths and weaknesses (formative evaluation)
- Helping the teacher and/or learner to plan further work (integrative evaluation)
When assessing learning outcomes, the teacher should be concerned with four main decisions. These decisions relate to the following broad four questions:
- What to assess,
- When to assess,
- How to assess and
- How to use the information provided by the assessment process to support learning and to improve one’s own teaching.
Teachers can use tests and examinations to be aware of:
- The learner’s competence or performance,
- The student’s knowledge of culture of the native speaker of the language,
- The ability to use language in realistic contexts.
When designing tests, teachers need to consider:
- How valid the test is in terms of the aims and objectives of language learning,
- How reliable the test is in terms of the grading procedures,
- How practical the test is in terms of designing and administering it.
Ongoing assessment in the classroom is a must to provide a continuous picture of the learner’s ongoing progress and should be used both by the teacher and the learner. There are some important points the teacher should take into account when designing assessment tasks in the classroom. They are as follows:
- Assessment procedures should be valid and appropriate to learning aims and objectives.
- In-class activities should be used to monitor and assess learners’ participation and performance.
- Assessment tasks should aim mainly at identifying strengths and areas for improvement in the learner’s performance.
- There should be some assessment procedures to assess the learner’s ability to work independently and collaboratively.
- The process and results of assessment should give helpful information for planning teaching and learning for individuals and groups.
- Assessment of the learner’s performance and learning progress should be in the form of descriptive evaluation, which should be transparent and comprehensible to the learner, parents and others.
- Reports, checklists, grades etc. can be used to chart and monitor the learner’s progress.
- Assessment scales and a valid institutional/national/international grading system should be used in assessing the learner’s performance. Grades assigned for tests and examinations should use reliable and transparent procedures.
When assessing the learner’s language performance, the teacher should assess the learner’s ability to:
- produce a spoken text according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy, fluency, appropriateness of usage, etc.
- produce a written text according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy, cohesion and coherence, etc.
- understand and interpret a spoken text such as listening for gist, specific or detailed information, implication, etc.
- understand and interpret a written text such as reading for gist, specific or detailed information, implication, etc.
- engage in spoken interaction according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy, fluency and conversational strategies.
- engage in written interaction according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy and appropriateness of response, etc.
When assessing the learner’s awareness of language culture, the teacher should assess the learner’s:
- knowledge of cultural facts, events etc. of the target language communities.
- ability to make comparisons between their own and the culture of target language communities.
- ability to respond and act appropriately in encounters with the target language culture.
When learners make common errors during assessment tasks, the teacher should:
- analyze these errors and identify the processes that may cause them.
- provide constructive feedback to learners concerning their errors.
- deal with errors that occur in class in a way which supports learning processes and communication.
- deal with errors that occur in spoken and written language in ways which support learning processes and do not undermine confidence and communication.