back into teaching and learning for the assessment to be effective. To the extent that a teacher's decisions and judgments are informed by the information they glean from their students—for example, through observations, class discussions, conversations, written comments, reflections, journals, tests, quizzes, and presentations—teachers can base decisions on understandings of their students and significantly support their learning.

Unfortunately, there are often competing needs and demands on teachers. Teachers have little choice but to juggle the different purposes of assessment in effort to create some coherent system that can best satisfy the different, and often competing, assessment aims. Because they are stretched thin with resources and time, teachers need support in helping them realize the potential of this type of assessment. We turn to this challenge in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6.


  • To be effective as assessment that improves teaching and learning, the information generated from the activity must be used in such a way as to inform the teacher and/or her students in helping decide what to do next.

  • It is important for teachers to have clear performance criteria in mind before they assess student work and responses. These should be conveyed to students.

  • Form and content of assessment should be consistent with the intended purpose.

  • Student participation becomes a key component of successful assessment strategies at every step. If students are expected to effectively participate in the process, then they need to be clear on the target and the criteria for good work, to assess their own efforts in light of the criteria, and to share responsibility in taking action in light of feedback.

  • Assessments should be equitable and fair, supporting all students in their quest for high standards. Thus, technical issues are important to consider for all assessments, including those that occur each day in the classroom.

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