Unraveling the true potential of students along their learning journey is pivotal in achieving success. Assessments, a cornerstone of this process, go beyond mere knowledge evaluation. They wield a profound influence, serving as both proactive and reactive aids. As diagnostic tools, assessments empower educators to identify students who may need extra guidance, ensuring no one is left behind. Equally important, they offer students an invaluable self-evaluation tool, igniting a sense of ownership over their learning and driving overall improvement. Assessments have evolved from instruments of measurement, assessment OF learning, to strategic facilitators that enrich the entire learning experience – assessments FOR and AS learning – elevating education to new heights.
In fact, the State of Assessment in K-12 Education report for 2022 by Instructure shows a positive change in the use of assessments beyond just scoring students at the year-end to make promotion decisions. The report reveals that 94% of educators are using formative assessments and 81% are using interim assessments to inform instruction, design interventions, evaluate teaching efficacy, and, of course, test learning progress.
In this article, we explore the three assessment strategies: assessment OF, FOR, and AS learning, alongside a brief analysis of technology’s impact on assessments.
Assessment OF Learning
This essentially refers to summative assessments, typically administered at the end of a specific grading period to provide evidence of students’ learning. These assessments are usually criteria-driven, such as curriculum outcomes. They may also compare a student’s learning achievement against a class, district, or national standard or benchmark. The main purpose is to communicate student progress to the students themselves, parents/guardians, educators, other educational institutions, and potential employers.
This type of assessment enables decisions regarding learning, primarily for the purposes of promoting students from one grade to another and evaluating career readiness. They also provide insights into the design and implementation of curriculums, structure of education delivery, and benchmarking of performance of schools nationwide. Needless to say, such assessments could put huge stress on students to achieve the highest possible grades.
Assessment FOR Learning
Contrary to the assessment of learning, assessment for learning includes formative or adaptive assessments, administered throughout the learning process. They provide information for educators, parents, and students for:
The early identification of at-risk students.
Adjusting instruction to improve learning outcomes.
Monitoring student progress to provide ongoing personalized support.
The aim is to enhance concept clarity, knowledge acquisition and to better meet learning objectives. It allows a proactive, data-driven approach to helping students. The key here is to also provide regular feedback to inform and motivate students to progress in the right direction and focus on areas of improvement.
Assessment AS Learning
Assessment AS learning has been taking precedence in recent times because it mainly promotes self-directed learning, helping students monitor their own progress to achieve better learning outcomes. Although formative and adaptive assessments are used here too, the focus is on giving the learner greater control over their learning path. In other words, it is student-directed, albeit with the support of educators. According to UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education, assessment as learning
“actively involves learners and encourages them to think about the way they learn. It occurs when learners reflect on and regulate and monitor their learning progress. It comprises learner reflection and peer and self-assessment.”
Such assessment is crucial for students to regulate their learning, making informed decisions based on feedback to engage effectively with the course’s learning priorities. It gives learners greater control and autonomy, two elements that are valued by Gen Z and Gen Alpha, the populations that are currently engaged in K-12 and higher education.
The Role of Technology in Powering Assessments of/for/as Learning
Technology platforms, equipped with a powerful assessment engine, empower the education system to effortlessly offer formative, adaptive, and summative assessments. With edtech-driven assessments, education publishers and educators can:
Create and deploy question banks with multiple question types, including multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blanks, true or false, and even open response assessments.
Measure complex skills and problem solving for real-world situations through video assessments, tools for collaboration, and real-life skill demonstration.
Provide instance and/or live feedback to enhance student engagement and support learning.
Improve accessibility through anytime/anywhere access, multilingual support, and tools such as read-aloud, captioning, etc.
Offer gamified, video-based, audio-based, interactive, and computer simulations for assessment.
Empower students to make the most of assessment feedback to achieve their learning goals.
The K-12 assessment system is already undergoing significant changes to ensure equitable, inclusive, and accessible education. A prime example is the Balanced Assessment Systems Collaborative of the Council of Chief State School Officers, where 28 US states are working to design better assessments to support learning.
The Emerging Role of AI in Educational Assessments
Although the use of AI in education isn’t new, the technology is still in its nascent stages in terms of educational applications. It has huge potential to enhance success in achieving curricular, skill-related, and knowledge-based outcomes.
For instance, voice-based conversational AI could prove to be an effective virtual learning assistant for students, interacting with them through speech for personalized, natural language conversations. On the other hand, text-based generative AI could facilitate guided learning to encourage critical thinking, problem solving, and overall better academic outcomes.
AI/ML is already helping educators with learning analytics to personalize support and curate learning journeys. This technology can also be applied for predictive, diagnostic, and prescriptive insights. Such insights can be leveraged by educators to personalize support and deliver targeted interventions.
Another area where AI is likely to excel is voice recognition. It could help in the early diagnosis of reading and other learning issues, interact verbally with students to ask questions and guide them in clarifying their argument for essay-type assessments. While developing and using the latest AI-powered edtech tools, the aim should now be to guide students even as they work on solving problems, rather than after completing the entire assessment. This could personalize learning even further, while engaging and motivating students more effectively.
At Integra, we help learning services providers, educational publishers and edtech organizations experiment and innovate within their space by providing the much-needed bandwidth. Through our digital content development, assessments and AI/ML solutions, our team of experts can help you design innovative and impactful learning interventions for your learners. Contact us to find out more about how we can support you with this transformation!