With the increasing realization of the ineffectiveness of large scale assessments, teachers have continued to embrace classroom-based assessment. The large scale assessment has been argued to be mostly concerned with establishing the level of accountability as its normally concentrates on ranking students and schools to see how they fair in relation to the set standards. Such assessments are thus never the best for teachers who would want to improve certain instructions and approaches to make them more suitable for individual students. However, unlike the large-scale assessments, classroom assessment is designed with specific needs of the students and teachers in mind. This write will therefore narrow this concept down to assess the premise that assessment plays a vital role in classroom.
Assessment in classroom is a process that has been lauded by most scholars in the education field based on its effectiveness. The Educational Broadcasting Corporation (2008) reports that its supporters have criticized the large scale assessments based on the fact that such assessments are normally taken as students are transiting from one level of education to the other. With this arrangement, teachers do not have time with their students to help them improve in their weak points realized from such exams. This is because the students shall have transited to another level and will be handled by another group of teachers. Moreover, results from such evaluations may also not be very effective especially based on the fact that they do not provide all the needed information for the teachers to be able to carry out specific improvements. It is on these premises that it has been argued that it is the classroom-based assessment that plays a major role in the improvement of learning in classrooms.
Shermis & Vesta (2011) argue that classroom abased assessments such as; quizzes, writing, assignments and the various tests that teachers continuously administer during their various lessons in class are the best in guiding students’ improvement. Most teachers have also shifted their attention on the class-based assessments arguing that they are designed with specific instructional goals for their classes and as well as the individual students. Results from such tools, as class assignments, are given on an immediate basis and can thus be analyzed with each student.
According to Guskey (2003), the role of assessment in classroom learning can be looked at in three different dimensions. These include its usefulness to the teachers and that to the learners as well as designing of a relevant corrective instruction. A well designed classroom assessment can be a meaningful information source to the students. The assessment particularly helps students by promoting the purpose and goals of learning through a number of ways.
As far as the purpose of education is concerned, Earl (2003) notes that classroom assessment helps the students in making instructional decision making. This enables them to focus much of their attention on the learning areas which should be given first priority. Equally the assessments help students to reflect the various concepts and practice those skills emphasized by their teachers in class (Guskey, 2003). Additionally, classroom assessment promotes the class learning process in a number of ways. For instance, the outcome of the assessment can positively influence the cognitive process of the students as they study. That is, it will give the students insights into what kind of criteria their teachers use in the judgment of their performance. The assessment is even more useful where there is an alignment between the instructional activities as provided with the teachers and those standards set by the state or any other governing body like the district (Atkin, 2004).
Closely associated with this contribution of the class assessment program is that it helps motivate the students to learn and study. This is based on the fact that the assessment forms a criterion that is entirely associated with the instructional goals and class objectives which offers real challenge for students. This way the students will be motivated to learn and study since they have the tendency to perceive assessments as a fair way of measuring learning goals especially those which are of great importance to them. This goal of class assessment is normally readily achieved since the students have the tendency to spend more time studying those aspects of their course that they believe will be assessed by their instructors (Guskey, 2003).
Moreover, the assessments help the teachers in the facilitation of the learning process through assisting them in the provision of important learning related feedbacks to their students. This enables the students to know their level of progress and make it easy for them to identify the problems they are facing in their learning process. This is based on the fact that the students shall be able to review, by themselves, the class materials and thus gain better understanding. Such a process that seeks to involve the students in the assessment process encourages their level of intrinsic motivation while also enabling them to self-regulate with a bid to achieving their desired educational goals (Heritage, 2010).
Monitoba (2012) adds that the result from the assessment process is also used by the teachers to improve the content and teaching approaches. This means that it helps the teachers to continuously modify what they teach the students and their modes of delivery to ensure the maximum benefit of the students in the education process. Moreover, while carrying out such modifications, the teachers will enhance the possibility of the achievement of the learning goals by their students. Additionally, Shepard (2007) argues that teachers can also utilize classroom assessment as a vital information source. According to him, classroom assessment helps teachers to evaluate and know how well they handle various topics. This way, they are able to revisit whatever lesson or part of the instructions that they think may not have been taught well in class.
Equally, assessment in classroom allows teachers to gather and tally information that enables them to concentrate on those areas that could have posed challenges to their students earlier. Such items and criteria as may have been missed by a good percentage may therefore be successfully repeated. This is also related to the fact that assessment allows the teachers to, through reviewing of their individual student’s result, device a way of addressing the challenges that were faced by each student in his/her class. Such challenges may be as a result of the ambiguity or unclear criterion which led to the student misinterpreting particular questions (Guskey, 2003). This way teachers will also be successful in determining whether the tools were effective in addressing his/her goals in terms of the skills, knowledge and understanding as had been intended.
Mazrano (2006) observes that, there are also cases in which classroom assessments have revealed that the some problems are not with the student but are teaching learning problems associate with the concerned teachers. In such cases, the assessment shall have been useful in helping the teachers to review the teaching kind of explanations, examples, and the teaching strategies that had been employed in the class. This would help increase his/her effectiveness in the subsequent classes.
Additionally, this kind of analysis has helped those teachers who have issues with their egos. In cases where effective classroom based assessment is not embraced, teachers with such issues as pride may find themselves shifting the entire blame of the learning failure on the students. Class assessment thus eliminates such problems by enabling the teachers to realize that effective learning is determined by what their students are able to do and is not determined on the basis of what they, as teachers, are able to do; since one cannot claim an effective learning took place if students did not learned (Wilson, 2004).
The implication here is that learning is a shared responsibility between the teachers and their students. The process of improving the assessment tools should thus be continuous since there will never be an excellent tool of learning for all students. For example, any failure by an approach used in class to reach over half the percentage of the total number of students in a class calls for a review of the teaching methods and the kinds of instructions that may have been used.
The third role of assessment in classroom is found in its application in corrective instruction to evaluating the instructions quality. McMillan (2011) argues that assessment itself is never the end to classroom learning process but it provides a guideline for designing a relevant corrective instruction to counter the kind of errors that had been identified during the learning process in the classroom. This means that the feedback from classroom assessments is even useful to the policy makers within the sector of education since it informs them of the changes that are necessary in improving the effectiveness of the learning process within the classes in their various countries. It also enables teachers to prepare effective and relevant instructional alternatives with which they can follow up on the findings realized during the assessment. This enables the teachers to utilize new models in the presentation of their concepts while also seeking the various ways of engaging students in learning experiences considered to be more appropriate (Ganly, 2003).
In this case, corrective instruction is quite different from restating the teaching process which many teachers do involve themselves in including such acts of being a bit slower and using loud voices. In this process, teachers are rather tasked with analyzing the assessment outcome to help them come up with new approaches that can help them take into account the various levels of intelligence and the learning styles among students (Guskey, 2003). This means that, the assessments can help improve the initial evaluation quality by incorporating the various teaching approaches that the teachers never used during the lesson planning stage. It thus extends and strengthens the teacher’s work. Equally, the process does not leave out the students with limited or no errors in the learning process. Such students can also benefit from special designed enriched activities that can help in ensuring that their learning is broadened and expanded.
According to Guskey (2003), classroom assessments also lessen the work load on teachers. This is based on the fact that once the students realizes the benefit they stand to gain from the corrective process and become used to it, the amount of time which teachers do spend in class will drastically reduce. This is because much of the work will be accomplished through assignments which students do carry either to their homes or to their special groups. Finally, McMillan (2011) argues that a follow up on corrective instruction also gives the students an additional chance to demonstrate a higher competency and understanding levels.
In conclusion, assessment in class has a major role in the learning process. It is beneficial both to the students and the teachers. The process helps in motivating the students to put more effort in the learning process. The teachers too gain, since they are able to know the extent to which they are effective in delivering any single lesson in terms of the initially set knowledge, goals, and skills. However, for the teachers to achieve a significance level of improvement from their utilization of assessment in class there has to be a change in the way they view this process as well as the way in which they carry out the interpretation of the results. That is, the assessments must be integrated with the instruction process and treated as very crucial in enhancing learning among students. Equally, there will be the need for various governments to integrate various assessment related programs in the trainings of teachers. This is because if teachers lack competence in this aspect of education, they will simply rely on the inadequate publishers’ assessments.