Assessment refers to the process of measuring in some way the knowledge and skills held by students. It may be carried out before the current period of study, during or after. It can focus on the individual learner or on the class as a whole.
There are different objectives in assessing the levels of students, ranging from what is possibly the most traditional, summative assessment, that is, grading them according to what may be a pre-established scale, to formative assessment, that is, discovering what possible gaps there might be in their acquired knowledge with a view to revising aspects that need to be reinforced.
Summative assessment evaluates how well something has been learnt in order to give learners grades. It may have a competitive element.
Teachers give grades for a series of assignments over a certain period of time with a final grade being given as an average. It better reflects the students' learning process as well as helping reduce their anxiety at the moment of taking tests.
It may be particularly well-suited to students with a heavy exam schedule in other subjects.
In many cases, the language teacher will find that the students in the class have been graded according to an assessment procedure that differs in its approach to that of the course content. As this can have consequences regarding the amount of time spent on certain aspects of language, whether it be grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary or whatever, the teacher will have to take "executive decisions" regarding any necessary modifications. Classroom-based assessment (CBA), in which teachers are more actively involved in the evaluation process, can also involve the learners "in assessing their own achievements".
- British Council Teaching English "Testing and assessment"
- British Council Teaching English "Formative assessment"
- Genesee, Fred and Upshur, John A. Classroom-Based Evaluation in Second Language Education Cambridge University Press (1996)
- British Council "Test writing"
- "Systematic effects in the rating of second-language speaking ability: test method and learner discourse"
- Tsagari, Dina "Is there life beyond language testing? An introduction to alternative language assessment" pdf (copy and paste title and do a Google search)
- Ur, P. A Course in Language Teaching: Trainee Book. Designing a test: Guidelines for test preparation. p.14 Cambridge University Press