Quality Assurance Vs Quality Control In Assessment

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You will remember that assessment involves the processes of gathering information about a learner’s response to an educational task. The information is gathered more than once, using various formats and used to device measures to improve his/her learning. Thus, if poor quality information about the leaner is collected, the likelihood of giving inappropriate advice is high.

The quality of information refers particularly to validity and reliability. However, they are not the only quality indicators in assessment, but the most important ones. Validity simply means the extent to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure, e.g. the ability to grow vegetables. On the other hand, reliability means the extent to which an assessment method or instrument gives the same results each time it is used in the same setting with the same type of subjects, e.g. practically assessing vegetable growing.

Producing reliable and valid assessment results each time requires that schools entrench quality in the system. This entails putting in place internal quality assurance structures, mechanisms and processes to ensure that the marks are representative of learners’ abilities. Training teachers on assessment principles coupled with living the quality culture are the utmost of assessment quality assurance.

While quality control is synonymous with inspection, it must be noted that quality cannot be somehow “inspected” into the product. Inspection is normally done at the end of the activity against agreed standard. For example, making a product at the end using a checklist.  Giving a test at the end of the month or end of the topic is also an example of quality control.

By then it’s rather too late to realise that 50% of the learners actually did not understand most aspects of the topic. Instead, of controlling quality at the end, it’s rational to entrench quality throughout instructional delivery, so that every learner masters the content and becomes intrinsically motivated. Doing this will make the work of the teacher extremely easy because learners end up taking control of their learning, hence passing the final examinations by all is guaranteed.

Moderation as a quality control activity, is done to reduce sources of error because of tasks of varying demands, or variation in opportunity provided by the tasks undertaken, or there are differences in the interpretation of performance criteria or marking schemes and errors in making judgment. However, moderating processes preserves validity and reliability of assessment. Nonetheless, well-trained teachers’ assessment does not require moderation. You will know that teachers are assessing appropriately when their marking correlates highly with that of the moderators.

However, quality control is not completely inappropriate, it can be infused in quality assurance as a way of verifying quality products and services, by taking a small sample at every stage to check if the system is still within limits. Any deviation from standard will require the system to be recalibrated and at that time not much would have been incurred. An in the final analysis, a small sample, say less than 2% of the final products, is taken for inspection to ensure consignment of 100% perfection is sent to the market and assured of the highest profit.

Quality assurance seeks among others to remove to the greatest extent possible the need for inspection.  It is well-known that 100 % inspection can fail to detect as many as 15 to 20 % of the defectives in the inspected lot, even if the same lot has been 100 % inspected three times. Remember what we said about multiple choice test in our last article, that even a learner who knows nothing can still guess 25% correct of the items, and you wouldn’t know that s/he does not know anything.

Yes, It’s Possible!

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