Teachers use assessment at different phases of learning:
This is given at the beginning of study, prior to instruction, to determine what the students already know or not know about a topic, to know the students’ learning needs or to diagnose the students’ readiness, as well as to help the teachers determine what to teach or where to start, and help the teachers plan and teach accordingly.
In Kumon, for example, students are given diagnostic exams to determine the kids’ level of readiness in either Reading or Math.
This is given all throughout the learning process to monitor the students’ progress in achieving targeted learning outcomes or to know whether the students are learning what they ought to be learning. Assessment during instruction also helps the students manage their own learning, and helps the teachers gauge if their instructional tools and teaching methods are aligned with the learning objectives and outcomes. It also helps the teachers differentiate their instruction according to the students’ individual needs, and determine next steps.
Again, as an example, Kumon kids are given series of worksheets to monitor how they are in their learning, and to help them progress to the next level.
This is given at the end of study to determine the students’ mastery of the lesson, to measure whether the students are successful in meeting the learning objectives and in achieving the targeted learning outcomes.
The results of assessment help the teachers determine not only the grades, but also the areas of improvement in the teaching-learning process. The information can be useful for teachers and schools to refine what needs to be refined and improve what needs to be improved in the entire teaching-learning process.
In Kumon, kids are given final exams per level to determine whether they have mastered the previous level and are ready to advance to the next level. The final assessment also helps the school decide what appropriate awards should be given to students.
Earl, L. & Katz, S. (2006). Rethinking classroom assessment with purpose in mind. Western & Northern Canadian Protocol for Collaboration on Education. [PDF documents]. Available at http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/assess/wncp/