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What is an Educational Assessment?

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning

An educational assessment is the documentation of a wide array of academic factors, such as achievement, styles of learning, and attitudes and beliefs in relation to learning. Most assessments are based on measurable information. An assessment can focus on one student, a group of students, or even extend to an entire learning institution or educational system.

A common way of performing an educational assessment is to collect data directly from students. This usually involves the distribution of surveys, which are then compiled and examined for patterns and emerging trends. These results can be used to gauge the success of an educational program and serve as a guide for making future improvements.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

An educational assessment may also include the study of individual and group student achievement. Grades, test scores, and other academic benchmarks can be used to gauge student success. These results often help teachers and administrators to make immediate adjustments and long-term plans in order to encourage student success.

Effective educational assessments can also be used to help students thrive in existing academic structures. Data may be used to help teachers and administrators decide which particular programs will work best for individual students or classrooms. Sometimes students are moved to more beneficial programs mid-year as a result of assessment findings, though this is rare. Most assessments are conducted at the end of the academic year in order to provide a template for the year to come.

A successful educational assessment will consist of a thorough examination of the source of information. In order to collect accurate data, all individuals involved in conducting an assessment will typically follow a specific, strict set of procedures for research. It is important to establish from the beginning what information must be collected, as the results will often not be effective if valuable elements are missed. There should also be a consensus as to how the information should be compiled and reported so that it is consistent, accurate, and understandable to outside parties.

An assessment can be as simple as a single test or survey or it can extend over a longer period of time and cover a greater field of information. It can be performed in-house or via an external contractor. Assessments can cover a general student population or specific categories or programs, such as special education. The guidelines for each study will vary as much as the subjects and thus many assessments tend to be dramatically different from each other.

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