Assessment is a process that is measurable in terms of knowledge, skills, beliefs and attitudes. Assessment as a process involves coming up with an evaluative process that is measurable, objective and achievable. In the learning process, assessment takes both curricular and extracurricular activities that are geared towards producing an all rounded student.
Education assessment takes two distinct categories. Mostly, these are summative or formative. Summative assessment is done at the end of a course or academic term and is mostly geared towards awarding a grade or as means towards evaluating students’ progress so that they can proceed to the next level. On the other hand, formative assessment is carried out throughout the learning process and it aids the learning process through gauging the students’ understanding and competence in the subject content.
Formal assessment takes a standardized format, this type of assessment is mathematically computed, calculated and analyzed to give precise data of the assessment, and it takes the form of percentile and standard scores.
In formal assessment, the teacher gives all the students a test on a similar theme. Mostly, this is done in reading and writing tests. The objective of formal assessment is to establish and evaluate systematically each student’s response of the theme in respect to the instructions given. This allows for flexibility in terms of the learners’ response.
Formal assessment comes in handy in the classroom environment as the teacher is able to formulate out-of-level test to determine the student progress throughout the learning progress. Formal assessment basically allows a teacher, parents and the administrators to have two points of comparison; the rate of student growth over time and the level of student performance (Sweet, 1993).
On the other hand, Informal assessment forms part of the authentic assessment. It takes various forms from common classroom activity like assignments, literature discussion groups, and essays to more dynamic forms of assessment like experiments, individual projects, performance and demonstrations. Unlike the formal assessment where data is readily computed, informal assessment calls for teachers to create a check list to record their observations and gauge it so as to allocate marks to it.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, (2004), informal assessment in education allows teachers to be able to equalize or standardize the students’ performance in this view, some student are not particularly good in writing essays, but are good at giving presentation. Informal assessment is open and flexible in the manner that it can be made formal if the teacher gives guidelines and criteria to the subject topic.
Standardized tests according to analyst are fair and objective means for measuring student performance. Standardized tests allow for accountability for both students and teacher in their performance. In testing students’ literacy strengths, standardized tests come in handy for teachers as they are able to formulate tests based on the available data from previous formal assessments. These allow teachers to benchmark the performance of the learners.
However, some people are of the view that standardized tests are biased in that students are gauged on a particular theme of an entire learning process whereas it should focus on each student’s sphere of interest and intellect. Standardized tests should not only focus on classroom academics, but should have a facet in general knowledge. (National Centre for Education Statistics, 2009)
National Center for Educational Statistics. (2004). National assessment of educational progress. Retrieved on September 24, 2010 from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/
National Centre for Education Statistics. (2009). institute of education science. U.S. Department of education. Retrieved on September 24, 2010 from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2008/2009479.pdf
Sweet, D. (1993). Performance assessment. Office of Education Research Consumer Guide. Retrieved on September 24, 2010 from http://www.ed.gov/pubs/OR/ConsumerGuides/perfasse.html