Assessment in Mathematics Assessment Logo

Purpose of Classroom Assessment

One of the first things to consider when planning for assessment is its purpose. Who will use the results? For what will they use them?

Assessment is used to:

  • inform and guide teaching and learning
    A good classroom assessment plan gathers evidence of student learning that informs teachers' instructional decisions. It provides teachers with information about what students know and can do. To plan effective instruction, teachers also need to know what the student misunderstands and where the misconceptions lie. In addition to helping teachers formulate the next teaching steps, a good classroom assessment plan provides a road map for students. Students should, at all times, have access to the assessment so they can use it to inform and guide their learning.
  • help students set learning goals
    Students need frequent opportunities to reflect on where their learning is at and what needs to be done to achieve their learning goals. When students are actively involved in assessing their own next learning steps and creating goals to accomplish them, they make major advances in directing their learning and what they understand about themselves as learners.
  • assign report card grades
    Grades provide parents, employers, other schools, governments, post-secondary institutions and others with summary information about student learning.
  • motivate students
    Research (Davies 2004; Stiggins et al. 2004) has shown that students will be motivated and confident learners when they experience progress and achievement, rather than the failure and defeat associated with being compared to more successful peers.
  • The key is to understand the relationship between assessment and student motivation. In the past, we built assessment systems to help us dole out rewards and punishment. And while that can work sometimes, it causes a lot of students to see themselves as failures. If that goes on long enough, they lose confidence and stop trying. When students are involved in the assessment process, though, they can come to see themselves as competent learners.
    Sparks 1999