LE4 Summary

Assessment and Evaluation

Assessment Today

Just as instruction has changed over the years, so have assessment and evaluation. No longer are we 'sifting and sorting'. "The primary purpose of assessment and evaluation is to improve student learning." (Growing Success, 2010). We strive to make our practices "fair, transparent, and equitable for all students" (Growing Success, 2010)

Gathering Evidence

We use "conversations, observations and student products" (Growing Success, 2010) to gather evidence on student achievement. We use that evidence to determine what a student understands and can do, what they need next, and what our next instructional moves might be.
08-Lucy West-Culture of Classroom Discourse


The words we use now are assessment as, for, and of learning. Here’s a quote from Growing Success, 2010. “Terms such as diagnostic, formative, and summative, which are used to identify the nature of assessment, have recently been supplemented with phrases assessment for learning, assessment as learning, and assessment of learning. As Harlen (2006) explains: “Using the terms ‘formative assessment’ and ‘summative assessment’ can give the impression that these are different kinds of assessment or are linked to different methods of gathering evidence. This is not the case; what matters is how the information is used…” (p. 30)

Although the research brief below uses incorrect terminology (formative assessment), it remains an applicable read.


Level 4 Clarification

“Level 4 identifies achievement that surpasses the provincial standard. The student demonstrates the specified knowledge and skills with a high degree of effectiveness. However, achievement at a level 4 does not mean that the student has achieved expectations beyond those specified for the grade/course.” (Growing Success, 2010)

Fair and Authentic Assessment

Damian Cooper says in order to assign grades, teachers need a valid sample of what students can do. He says the sample should include a variety of modes to allow for differences in learning style (say, write, do), include multiple (3+) pieces of evidence for each learning cluster, provide evidence of the essential learning in the subject and the task represents polished work (not practice or early tries, feedback has occurred previously and been implemented).
P08 Damian Cooper

Criterion-Referenced Assessment

Each of us is on our own learning journey. We assess students according to standards and we do not compare them to each other.

Growing Success, 2010:

Criterion-referenced Assessment and Evaluation Ontario, like a number of other jurisdictions, has moved from norm-referenced to criterion-referenced assessment and evaluation. This means that teachers assess and evaluate student work with reference to established criteria for four levels of achievement that are standard across the province, rather than by comparison with work done by other students, or through the ranking of student performance, or with reference to performance standards developed by individual teachers for their own classrooms. (There is no expectation that a certain number or percentage of students must be allocated to any one level of achievement.)

In the past, assessment and evaluation performance standards varied from teacher to teacher and from school to school, and this led to results that were not always fair for all students. Criterion-referenced assessment and evaluation ensure that the assessment and evaluation of student learning in schools across the province are based on the application of the same set of well-defined performance standards. The goal of using a criterion-based approach is to make the assessment and evaluation of student achievement as fair, reliable, and transparent as possible.

Assessment and Grading for Student Achievement

Timed Tests

(taken from, A Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics; Volume Five)

Over the years, students have been given a variety of timed tests to demonstrate their learning, using worksheets similar to the one listing unrelated facts in the example… This custom does not help students to consolidate their understanding. A time limit should not be placed on tests or worksheets when students are in the process of learning their basic facts, for the following reasons:

· A time limit discourages students from double-checking for accuracy

· A time limit may intimidate students who cannot recall the facts quickly but who may be very accurate

· Timed tests can create negative attitudes about mathematics in students who are not competitive

· Timed tests do not provide a window into a student’s thinking

· Timed tests do not tell the teacher what strategies students are using

It is important for teachers to focus assessments not only on the answer students give, but also on the strategies they use to produce those answers and on their understanding of the underlying mathematical concepts and connections.

“Teachers who use timed tests believe that the tests help children learn basic facts. This perspective makes no instructional sense… Children who have difficulty with skills or who work more slowly run the risk of reinforcing wrong practices under pressure. Also, they can become fearful about, and negative toward, their mathematics learning.” (Burns, 1995, p. 408)