Student Outcomes
Chapter: Forms Of Assessments And Informing Judgments

Aligning form to purpose and a step closer to an assessment strategy

Once the purpose of measurement has been identified, there are various forms of assessments to choose from:

  • State testing
  • Teacher generated assessments
  • Student surveys
  • Rubric based evaluation
  • Family/Parent survey
  • School Climate
  • Staff survey
  • Student conversations
  • Teacher interviews
  • Student progress to goals
  • Teacher practice
  • Projects
  • Performance based tasks

The form of the tool also needs to align to the vision and context of the classroom environment. For example if collaboration is a class value, then peer review is a critical form of tracking progress or if students need to do a survey on teacher actions, there needs to be an environment of trust and openness where they answer honestly and share feedback.

Another key insight from the round table was that tools for measuring systems and tools for measuring student outcomes in class are very different – in cases when the same variable is being tracked at a classroom and partner organization level, it is important to choose based on which variables lend themselves to aggregation and which don’t.

All of the forms of assessment for tracking progress of students and informing teacher action can be broadly categorized into (a) self-report questionnaires administered to students, (b) questionnaires administered to teachers about their students, and (c) performance tasks.

Each of these forms comes with its own benefits and challenges. Here are a few outlined from Measurement Matters: Assessing Personal Qualities Other Than Cognitive Ability for Educational Purposes by Angela L. Duckworth and David Scott Yeager

Self-report and teacher report questionnaires

  • Most common approaches to assessing personal qualities among both researchers and practitioners
  • Questionnaires are cheap, quick, reliable, and in many cases, remarkably predictive of objectively measured outcomes
  • A very large literature in social and cognitive psychology confirms that people are relatively good at using questionnaires to communicate their true opinions—provided that they in fact have answers for the questions asked and feel comfortable reporting accurately on them

Serious limitations of self-report and teacher report questionnaires:

  • Misinterpretation by participant: Student or teacher may read or interpret the item in a way that differs from researcher intent
  • Lack of insight or information: Student or teacher may not be astute or accurate reporters of behaviors or internal states (e.g., emotions, motivation) for a
  • variety of reasons
  • Insensitivity to short-term changes: Questionnaire scores may not reflect subtle changes over short periods of time
  • Reference bias: The frame of reference (i.e., implicit standards) used when making judgments may differ across students or teachers
  • Faking and social desirability bias: Students or teachers may provide answers that are desirable but not accurate

Performance Tasks

A performance task is essentially a situation that has been carefully designed to elicit meaningful differences in behavior of a certain kind.

  • They do not rely upon the subjective judgments of students or teachers
  • Relatedly, by assaying behavior at a moment in time, performance measures could be more sensitive than questionnaires to subtle changes in behavior

Serious limitations of performance tasks:

  • Misinterpretation by researcher: Researchers may make inaccurate assumptions about underlying reasons for student behavior
  • Insensitivity to typical behavior: Tasks that optimize motivation to perform well (i.e., elicit maximal performance) may not reflect behavior in everyday situations
  • Task impurity: Task performance may be influenced by irrelevant competencies (e.g., hand–eye coordination)
  • Artificial situations: Performance tasks may foist students into situations (e.g., doing academic work with distracting video games in view) that they might
  • proactively avoid in real life
  • Practice effects: Scores on sequential administrations may be less accurate (e.g., because of increased familiarity with task or boredom)
  • Extraneous situational influences: Task performance may be influenced by aspects of environment in which task is performed or by physiological state (e.g.,
  • time of day, noise in classroom, hunger, fatigue)
  • Random error: Scores may be influenced by purely random error (e.g., respondent randomly marking the wrong answer)

What we need to bear in mind is that perfectly unbiased, unfakeable, and error-free measures are an ideal, not a reality.


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