The importance of continuous assessment in education
Continuous assessment can be considered as a method of confirming what a student gains from schooling in terms of knowledge, industry, and character development. It is also a method of using the recorded performances of each pupil to help him or her improve on their achievement through guidance.
In other words, continuous assessment is systematic, comprehensive, cumulative, and guidance oriented.
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, as it embraces the cognitive, the psychomotor, and the affective domains.
Continuous assessment provides feedback to children and teachers, this feedback provides information which is used for the 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.
To that end, there are two important forms of assessment:
Designed to assist the learning process by providing feedback to the learner, formative assessment can be used to identify strengths and weaknesses and hence improve future performance. It is most appropriate where the results are to be used internally by those involved in the learning process.
This form of assessment usually takes place after students have completed their work or modules. 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.
One of the expected advantages of continuous assessment lies in its guidance-oriented nature. 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 students’ weaknesses if properly integrated with what occurs in the classroom.
Another advantage of continuous assessment is that it places teachers at the centre of all performance-assessment activities. It encourages more teacher participation in the overall assessment or grading students. Through this approach, teachers are able to integrate assessment and results into instructional practice.
Assessment in many schools today is summative, final, administrative, rigorous, and content-driven rather than being formative, diagnostic, private, suggestive, and goal-oriented, as it should be. Summative assessment entails the focus on final examinations by teachers, parents and students.
Performance, then, is defined in terms of results.
When continuous assessment has important consequences attached to performance, they are likely to impact directly on both teaching and learning, and so merit consideration as a mechanism for improving student achievements.
Gazi Md Abdur Rashid is Research Officer at District Education Office, Secondary and Higher Education, Munshiganj.