Reforming educational assessment: imperatives, principles and challenges

Education Schools Australia

This report reviews research into assessment, especially in schools, analyses the pivotal role of assessment in learning and argues for its reconceptualisation by practitioners and policy makers to better support learning.

Section 1 outlines some current pressures for assessment reform, introduces the concept of a learning assessment system designed to establish where learners are in their progress within an empirically mapped domain of learning, and sketches a set of design principles for such a system.

Section 2 considers pressures for assessment reform in greater detail and the implications of these pressures for educational assessment practice. It is observed that traditional assessment methods are often not well aligned with current understandings of learning, and are of limited value for assessing deep understandings, life skills that develop only over extended periods of time, or more personalised and flexible forms of learning.

Section 3 analyses and illustrates five design principles for an effective Learning Assessment System.

Section 4 considers some practical challenges to the implementation of this kind of Learning Assessment System, including: the changing of widely held perceptions about educational assessment; the development of deep understandings of how learning occurs within specific learning domains; the promotion of more coherent systems of assessment across a range of educational contexts; and the promotion of higher levels of assessment literacy across the profession.

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