Have you ever been in the middle of an assessment and thought, 'This question is unfair!' or 'This exam covers material I have never seen before!' If so, the assessment probably did not possess the qualities that make an assessment effective. This lesson will introduce you to the qualities of good assessments: reliability, standardization, validity, and practicality.
4 Qualities of Good Assessments
'Ugh! I am so frustrated! That was the worst test I have ever had!'
'I know! I probably knew only half the answers at most, and it was like the test had material from some other book, not the one we were supposed to study!'
'And what was with that loud hammering during the test? Couldn't the repair men have waited until after school to repair the roof?!'
'Yeah, all of that coupled with the fact that I was starving during the test ensures that I'll get a failing grade for sure.'
This was definitely not a good assessment. A good assessment is supposed to show what we have truly learned. There are four qualities of good assessments. Educators should ensure these qualities are met before assessing students. They are:
Reliability is defined as the extent to which an assessment yields consistent information about the knowledge, skills, or abilities being assessed. An assessment is considered reliable if the same results are yielded each time the test is administered.
For example, if we took a test in History today to assess our understanding of World War I and then took another test on World War I next week, we would expect to see similar scores on both tests. This would indicate the assessment was reliable. Reliability in an assessment is important because assessments provide information about student achievement and progress.
There are many conditions that may impact reliability. They include: day-to-day changes in the student, such as energy level, motivation, emotional stress, and even hunger; the physical environment, which includes classroom temperature, outside noises, and distractions; administration of the assessment, which includes changes in test instructions and differences in how the teacher responds to questions about the test; and subjectivity of the test scorer.
Another quality of a good assessment is standardization. We take many standardized tests in school that are for state or national assessments, but standardization is a good quality to have in classroom assessments as well. Standardization refers to the extent to which the assessment and procedures of administering the assessment are similar, and the assessment is scored similarly for each student.
Standardized assessments have several qualities that make them unique and standard. First, all students taking the particular assessment are given the same instructions and time limit. Second, the assessments contain the same or very similar questions. And third, the assessments are scored, or evaluated, with the same criteria.
Standardization in classroom assessments is beneficial for several reasons. First, standardization reduces the error in scoring, especially when the error is due to subjectivity by the scorer. Second, the more attempts to make the assessment standardized, the higher the reliability will be for that assessment. And finally, the assessment is more equitable as students are assessed under similar conditions.
The third quality of a good assessment is validity. Validity refers to the accuracy of the assessment. Specifically, validity addresses the question of: Does the assessment accurately measure what it is intended to measure?
An assessment can be reliable but not valid. For example, if you weigh yourself on a scale, the scale should give you an accurate measurement of your weight. If the scale tells you that you weigh 150 pounds every time you step on it, it is reliable. However, if you actually weigh 135 pounds, then the scale is not valid.
Similar to reliability, there are factors that impact the validity of an assessment, including students' reading ability, student self-efficacy, and student test anxiety level.
The fourth quality of a good assessment is practicality. Practicality refers to the extent to which an assessment or assessment procedure is easy to administer and score. Things to consider here are:
- How long will it take to develop and administer the assessment?
- How expensive are the assessment materials?
- How much time will the assessment take away from instruction?
Hey! The qualities of good assessments make up the acronym 'RSVP.' That's easy to remember!
It's also important to note that of the four qualities, validity is the most important. That is because the assessment must measure what it is intended to measure above all else. Grades, graduation, honors, and awards are determined based on classroom assessment scores.
Reliability is important because it ensures we can depend on the assessment results.
Standardization is important because it enhances reliability.
And practicality is considered last, when the other qualities have been accounted for.
After watching this lesson, you should be able to name and explain the four qualities that make up a good assessment.