Let’s now turn our attention to the conduct of quality assessment. The school just like any firm should operate profitably for its sustainability to provide education. As such, good management practices must be employed. Every parent wants to send his or her child to the best school. Best schools market themselves by their good performance, because they employ the principles of quality assurance whereby procedures and structures are put in place.
A school’s assessment mission to the pursuit of which it is totally dedicated is vital to the improvement of its performance. Assessment and instruction should carry the same weight and if one is given secondary treatment, the quality education is likely to be compromised. Teaching to complete the syllabus mostly results in about fifty percent pass rate because learners are just rushed through the content without learning.
Assessment comes in different formats and done for different purposes. As such, doing the right assessment might reduce the time allocated to a topic by half. For example, administering a pretest diagnostic assessment before instruction helps to direct instruction towards what learners do not know about the topic. And at the end, post-test assessment to check the effectiveness of the instruction is administered. Schools that do this never struggle with syllabus completion.
Implementing assessment as an instructional strategy is not easy. Teachers need to be well-trained on assessment, not testing, as is the case. This on its own is the most important way of embedding quality into the system. Once teachers are well-trained, they become intrinsically motivated, and intentionally and unintentionally do it the right way. Seeing all employees in the school as an asset which appreciates in value through training and motivation is the most powerful tool for achieving improvement in the school’s performance.
One test format that should be hardly administered schools that desire to improve the quality of their education is the multiple choice test format. Multiple choice test provides very little, if not none, of useful information. it involves a lot of guessing. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that in a four-option multiple choice test, a learner stands the chance of getting about 25% of the items correct even if one does not know anything about the topic.
Put in another way, a learner stands a chance of getting about 25% correct of the test items correct even if s/he writes a test without reference to a question paper. Improving the quality of education and administering multiple choice test are mutually exclusive. There are nevertheless, appropriate applications of multiple choice test. Research and examination bodies are better placed.
School heads as instructional leaders should be well grounded in assessment processes to effectively lead quality instruction. They should understand that all learners are capable and willing to learn, and should be enabled to do so. Those who are not willing to learn are not there in schools. But children differ in their ability to learn as such they must therefore work at their own paces. As such, group assessment should be avoided and instead implement individualised assessment. One cannot talk about quality assurance in assessment without talking about school-based assessment, which is the most valid and reliable kind of assessment.
Schools dedicated to improve learning appoint School Assessment Coordinators whose responsibility is to holistically coordinate quality assessment to pinpoint the locus of the problems. This should be someone with advanced qualifications in assessment to understand: that it is a social construction hence subjective; that a lot of assessment is helpful and healthy, yet just moderate testing is toxic; that analysis of result driven test results to label learners as A*, B, D, and so is counter-assessment principles; that the 21st century assessment is multifaceted and multidimensional; that assessment should not be done to learners but with them; that assessment is collaborative and conducted under varying contexts.
Yes, It’s Possible!