9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning



We stumbled across this [old but] great article about assessing student learning. Since we value student assessment a great deal (after all, that’s what SAGrader is all about!), we wanted to summarize the nine main points from the article and direct you to the full version, should you wish to read it.

Check out the summary below or click here to visit the source and to read the original article.

1. The assessment of student learning begins with educational value. Assessment is a vehicle for educational improvement. Educational values should drive not only what educators chose to assess but how they do it.

2. Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time. Learning is a complex process that entails knowledge, abilities, values, attitudes, and habit of the mind – each something that affects both academic success and performance beyond the classroom. Assessment should take each of these things into consideration by employing diverse methods.

3. Assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have clear, explicitly stated purposes. Assessment is a goal oriented process and entails comparing educational performance with educational purposes and expectations.

4. Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences that lead to those outcomes. Looking at where students “end up” is only part of the puzzle. To improve outcomes, educators must look at what students experienced along the way.

5. Assessment works best when it is ongoing not episodic. Although one-time assessment instances can be better than none, assessment is most powerful when it entails a linked series of activities over time.

6. Assessment fosters wider improvement when representatives from across the educational community are involved. Student learning is a campus-wide responsibility, and assessment is a good way of enacting that responsibility. While any assessment effort may start small, the aim should be to involve people from across the educational community over time.

7. Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and illuminates questions that people really care about. To be the most useful, assessment must be connected to issues or questions that people really care about. The point of assessment isn’t to gather data and return “results”, but rather a process that starts with the questions of decision makers, involves them gathering and interpreting data, and informs and helps guide them to make continuous improvements.

8. Assessment is most likely to lead to improvement when it is part of a larger set of conditions that promote change. Assessment alone changes little. Its greatest contribution comes on campuses where the quality of teaching and learning is valued and worked at. Such campuses push to improve educational performance and the quality of education.

9. Through assessment, educators meet responsibilities to students and to the public. There is a certain responsibility of educators to public stakeholders. The responsibility goes beyond reporting information. Rather, educators are obliged, on behalf of themselves, their students, and society to improve. And, those who are accountable to these educators are obligated to support their attempts at improvement.