Published:  12:26 AM, 06 November 2019

Importance of continuous assessment in education

Continuous assessment can be regarded as a method of ascertaining what a student gains from schooling in terms of knowledge, industry and character development, taking into account all his/her performances in tests, assignments, projects and other educational activities during a given period of term, year, or during the entire period of an educational level.

It is also a method of using the recorded performances of each pupil to help him or her improve on his or her achievement through guidance.

In other words, continuous assessment should be systematic, comprehensive, and cumulative and guidance oriented. Continuous assessment is systematic in the sense that it is planned, graded to suit the age and experience of the students and is given at suitable intervals during the school year. Appropriate timing saves students from being tested to death or becoming bored with too frequent assessments.

Comprehensiveness of continuous assessment means that it is not focused on academic skills alone. It embraces the cognitive, the psychomotor and the affective domains. Cumulative characteristics of continuous assessment means that all information gathered on the individual has to be pooled together before a decision can be taken.

To say that continuous assessment is guidance oriented means that the information so collected is to be used for educational, vocational and personal-social decision-making for the student. Conceptually as well as in practice, continuous assessment provides feedback to children and teachers. Such feedback provides information which is used for purposes of improving on the child's performance or modifying the content, context and methods of teaching, as well as in making a variety of other decisions.

There are two important assessments: Formative assessment and summative assessment

Formative assessment:

Formative assessment is designed to assist the learning process by providing feedback to the learner, which can be used to identify strengths and weakness and hence improve future performance. Formative assessment is most appropriate where the results are to be used internally by those involved in the learning process (students, teachers, curriculum developers).

Summative assessment is used primarily to make decisions for grading or determine readiness for progression. Typically summative assessment occurs at the end of an educational activity and is designed to judge the learners overall performance. In addition to providing the basis for grade assignment, summative assessment is used to communicate student's abilities to external stakeholders, e.g., administrators and employers.

Summative assessment:

Summative assessment usually takes place after students have completed units of work or modules at the end of each term and/or year. The information it gives indicates progress and achievement usually in grade-related or numerical terms. It's the more formal summing-up of a student's progress.

This information can then be provided to parents or used for certification as part of a formal examination course. Summative assessment gives students, parents and teachers valuable information about a student's overall performance at a specific point in their learning.

Assessment must be an interaction between the teacher and students, with the teacher continually seeking to understand, what a student can do and how a student is able to do it. Continuous assessment is only a part of the field of educational evaluation. He further argues that continuous assessment is "a method of evaluating the progress and achievement of students in educational institutions".

This means that continuous assessment could be used to predict future students? performance in the final examinations and the possible success at the work place or on a particular job. Indeed, in secondary schools, assessment of students? learning in the classroom has been an integral component of the teaching-learning process especially at secondary school level because there is much effort by the teacher to teach a lot of content to students.

However, that kind of assessment is subjective, informal, immediate, on going, and intuitive as it interacts with learning as it occurs. Although the main argument behind the adoption of continuous assessment is to avoid focusing all efforts, time and energy on just one exam, this is not true in secondary schools.

"In a global economy, assessment of students achievement is changing mainly because in an ever-changing knowledge based society, students would not only be required to learn and understand the basics but also to think critically, to analyze, and to make inference for making decisions."It is therefore critical that CAs could utilize strategies that are able to measure the changing students? abilities and attitudes, and this is why this study was undertaken to find out the different continuous assessment strategies teachers used in Secondary Schools.

Advantages of continuous assessment

One of the expected advantages of continuous assessment lies in its being guidance oriented. Since it will involve data gathering over a long period of time, it will yield more accurate data reaching the teachers early enough to modify instruction. This could play a vital role in diagnosing and remediating areas of learners? weakness if properly anchored in what occurs in classroom. Another advantage of continuous assessment is that it place teachers at the centre of all performance -assessment activities.

It encourages more teacher participation in the overall assessment or grading of his/her learners. Though this approach, teachers would be able to integrate assessment and assessment results into instructional practice. Teachers will be expected to incorporate assessment into the larger learning framework and possibly to provide evidence regarding how assessment information is used to inform and guide instruction for individual learners.

Assessment in many schools today is summative, final, administrative, rigorous and content-driven rather than formative, diagnostic, private, suggestive and goal oriented, as such can be regarded as grading." Summative assessment entails the focus on final examinations by teachers, parents and students. Surprisingly, formative assessment is geared towards the consolidation of students?

performance in the final examinations rather than inculcating students with problem solving, critical thinking, and life skills. Performance is defined in terms of results. In addition, when continuous assessment has important consequences attached to performance, they are likely to impact directly on teaching and learning and so merit consideration as a mechanism for improving student achievements.

The writer is Research Officer, District Education Office, Secondary and Higher Education, Munshiganj

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