The Process of Reviewing Educational Assessments

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  • 0:00 Purpose of Reviewing…
  • 0:46 Formative & Summative…
  • 1:36 Validity
  • 2:56 Rubrics
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson outlines questions that should be asked during the process of assessment review. It also defines summative assessments, formative assessments, validity, and rubrics.

Purpose of Reviewing Assessments

Although recent years have included heated debates over educational assessment, one thing has remained consistent; assessment is still alive and kicking in the American classroom. Whether it comes it the form of a multiple choice test, a student presentation, or simply a classroom discussion, you better believe teachers are still required to assess their pupils. For this reason, effective teachers continue to comb over their assessments, reviewing whether or not their evaluation tools are effective. In today's lesson, we'll take a look at a few of the questions these teachers use in this process of review. To say the least, this list of questions could be as long as a phone book, but for the sake of time, we'll limit ourselves to a very important few.

Formative & Summative Assessments

When reviewing assessments, one of the first questions an educator should ask is 'Does my assessment have a defined purpose?' In other words, 'Do I know what I want my assessment to do?' Putting this into educational terms, you're asking if the purpose of your assessment is formative or summative. If it's a formative assessment, its purpose is to monitor student understanding and instructional effectiveness during the learning process. Stated simply, formative assessment evaluates whether the teacher and the students are on the right track.

Differing from this, summative assessment is designed to assess mastery at the end of a specific time frame. A final exam is probably the best example of a traditional summative assessment. Its clear purpose is to quantify student retention after instruction has taken place.


Another question that must be grappled with when reviewing assessments is, 'Are my assessments valid?' Again speaking educationally, a valid assessment properly assesses student progress toward the desired learning outcome. For example, if the learning outcome is to ascertain whether or not students can match a Constitutional amendment to its coinciding number, a matching test is a valid assessment. From that test you can measure whether or not students know that Amendment II concerns the right to bear arms, and IV relates to freedom from unnecessary search and seizure. However, if my learning objective is for students to be able to grasp how the Bill of Rights has impacted modern society, then a matching test won't get the job done! In this case, it would be invalid.

In reviewing assessments, conscientious educators also make sure assessment expectations are clearly communicated. In other words, students should know in advance what they are being evaluated on. This doesn't mean they need to know every question on a test. It simply means they need to know what objective you will be expecting them to meet. Do you want them to simply recall facts, or do you want them to be able to synthesize information? Will they be required to explain why Rome fell, or will they just need to know the date it fell?

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