Research on Assessment of Learning

If you are trying to give students as much time as possible to learn, then you are likely engaged in discussions regarding how to best assess and evaluate the quality of student work in relation to the required standards or learning outcomes. If so, then you might be interested in examining a report published by the Assessment Reform Group that is focused on assessment OF learning.

It is based on four working papers that analyze relevant research. In summary, they clearly say that when teachers evaluate, they need to be able to make a professional judgment regarding the quality of student work. In order to do so in such a way that reliability and validity issues are taken care of, they need to engage in processes which involve working with colleagues and co-constructing shared criteria around quality expectations. Then they need to practice assessing student work, checking with colleagues to see if there is agreement. This is a moderation process that leads to teachers making “informed reliable and valid professional judgments” – and in fact, teacher professional judgments in this context have better reliability and validity than external tests. Here is a link to the report.

When one takes this perspective, then students who continue to improve their work are observed to be learning and adding to the evidence of learning that can be considered. Subsequently, when it comes to making a professional judgment, teachers will examine the entire collection of evidence. The work handed in by a student that was submitted “multiple times as part of a feedback cycle” will be viewed differently than the same assignment “without feedback.” Professional judgment frees educators from being slaves to scores, marks, grades, and numbers; instead, educators attend to quality expectations in relation to course standards or outcomes.

“Assessment and testing have a strong effect on the lives and careers of young people… When the results of tests and examinations are used to pass judgments on teachers and schools, they also affect the ways in which pupils are taught.”
~ ARG report on Assessment OF Learning