A Guide to Balanced Assessment

A principle in educational evaluation that acknowledges how important it is for an array of assessment measures to be put in place during the educational process, as this is the most effective way to ensure students attain their highest academic potential. It includes the utilization of developmental evaluations, cumulative evaluations, realistically accurate evaluations, and consistent evaluations across the board.

The teacher acts as the key decision-maker about whether or not the student’s academic performance is satisfactory. With the help of research-based assessments, teachers can refrain from making decisions based on obsolete or incomplete information.

An effective, balanced assessment system should include some key characteristics. These include conceptual fitting with the strategic plan, goals, vision, and mission of the district, providing actionable and relevant student performance data, providing multiple levels of assessment data, fulfilling the requirements of key educational decision-makers, maximizing the capacity of the educational system to modify and adapt to fulfill learning needs, etc.

A balanced assessment system typically includes benchmark, formative, and summative assessments. These measures supply information across all the levels of the educational system.

Benchmark assessments, also known as interim assessments, are often utilized as assessments that gauge progress on larger units of a district’s curriculum and are typically conducted several times each year. As these are fixed assessments, they might act as a kind of diagnostic but should let schools identify students who require additional diagnostic assessments and/or intervention.

Formative assessments are also called ‘short-cycle assessments.’ These assessments come with the objective of monitoring student learning to give ongoing feedback that can be utilized by students to enhance their learning and by teachers to improve their teaching. These overcome some of the limitations of fixed assessments and can produce rich diagnostic information while aiming at particular areas of learning deficits. Some examples of formative assessments include unit exams, quizzes, observations, classroom assessments, exit tickets, comprehension checks, etc.

Summative assessments are organized at the completion of instructional units and don’t generally impact the ongoing instruction for students. This kind of data might suggest the effectiveness of instruction, specific program treatment effect, or changes in areas such as instructional strategies or curriculum.

Each assessment might serve a different purpose or inform a particular decision, depending on the educational system’s level. However, diagnostic, progress monitoring, short-cycle formatives, universal screening, and computer adaptive assessments can overlap and serve multiple purposes in one assessment system.

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