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This helps them deal with administrative tasks such as applying for grants, reporting their progress, appeasing parents, etc. In addition, teacher-based methods of assessment have at least one positive implication for students. According to Flood et al., teacher-based assessments allow teachers to enter the process of scaffolding with significant foreknowledge. Flood et al. (2003). suggests that all good assessment includes a component in which a teacher plans and sets goals, and then collecting data and interpreting it. This can be done in the classroom or at the macro level -- applicable to either the school itself or the state. Teachers can use the data gleaned from teacher-centered assessment as a means by which to identify areas of weakness and address them (Kearns, 2009). Standardized testing and teacher-based testing in classrooms allows teachers to determine where most students are having problems and use scaffolding techniques to intervene on the student's behalf and move them to a higher level of achievement.
While these benefits are certainly important and crucial to the running of an institution of academic learning, many have risen up against standardized testing in schools. Wortham (2003) notes that through No Child Left Behind, "there is no doubt that mandates for increased standards-based testing will continue in spite of concerns of their relevancy" (para. 6). The relevancy issue comes into play when one examines why standardized tests are used in the schools. Schools are essentially graded based on students' performance on standardized tests. The performance determines what kind of funding they will receive and whether or not they will be subjected to more federal control in their schools. Further, standardized tests may carry high stakes for the students. They may be responsible for a student's graduation or movement to the next grade level. These kinds of issues encourage teachers and students to think about the test and only the test. Thus, an appreciation for learning or for the subjects at hand is almost completely ignored by the use of teacher-based assessments such as these. In addition, in the classroom, when students know they are being graded through teacher-based assessment tools, such as exams, they engage in practices such as cramming, in which they attempt to learn as much as they can for the test itself and forget it promptly after. All of these practices do not have the benefits associated with student-centered assessment. While student-centered assessment prepares students for a world in which they will face more challenging assessments, assessments from their bosses or family members, assessments in which they will be expected to consult others and finally make a choice, teacher-based assessment methods prepare students for one thing only -- taking more tests.
This being said, there are clearly benefits to teacher-based assessment, as student-based assessments cannot provide the kind of data that teacher-based assessments can. Further, teacher-based assessments allow students to understand the importance of the standards that the teacher has identified before the beginning of the lesson. The importance of these standards is emphasized for the student, as he or she begins to realize they are the most important items on the test. This allows students, who are presented with a great deal of information each day, to begin to prioritize. Thus, teacher-based assessments surely have their place. It is important that standardized tests be continually used as a means through which to gain relevant data. Teachers can continue to use them in the classroom in order to determine the makeup of their lesson for the rest of the semester. This way, teachers can address those issues that their students are having the most trouble with. Standardized tests alone should not, however, be used as a means of obtaining information for high stakes. Students who perform poorly on this kind of teacher-based assessment may be responding to the assessment rather than the material itself. This is especially true if the students' teacher was using a student-based method of instruction. Thus, like methods of instruction, methods of assessment should consist of a mixture of student-based and teacher-based assessment with high stakes resting on a combination of both assessments and a focus on teacher-based assessments simply for data collection.
In conclusion, the subject of assessments in the elementary grades has been one of great debate since the No Child Left Behind Act. Currently, there are two trends in teacher assessment -- student-based assessment and teacher-based assessment. While student-based assessments are superior in gauging learning and helping students continue on a journey of learning throughout their lives, student-based assessments are superior when it comes to collecting data and seeing where the class as a whole stands on a certain set of material. For this reason, it is important to conduct assessments using both teacher-based and student-based methods. However, teachers must use caution when conducting these sorts of assessments. For instance, they must be sure that external variables, such as grant money and state recognition do not result in their "teaching the test" to students. On the other hand, teachers must also be sure that their assessment methods actually assess the material they have been presenting to students in the way that they have been presenting it. As these trends continue to develop, one can hope that they will learn how to complement each other in order to make assessment a learning process for students and teachers.
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