Classroom Assessment Approach


Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind outlines an assessment structure that addresses the variety of purposes for classroom assessment in the grade school system. Learning for LIFE: An ESL Literacy Curriculum Framework, developed by Bow Valley College, has adapted this model to reflect the assessment needs in adult ESL literacy classrooms and outlines assessment for three purposes:

Assessment for Learning (formative assessment)

Assessment for learning helps instructors have a clear picture of the abilities and needs of their learners. Assessment is done for the purpose of measuring what the learners can and cannot do at any given point in the learning process. Assessment for learning:

  • is ongoing
  • is tied to learning outcomes
  • provides information that informs decisions about planning and instruction
  • allows instructors to provide immediate, descriptive feedback that guides learning

Assessment as Learning (self-assessment)

Assessment as learning involves the learners more in the process of looking at their learning and reflecting on their own abilities. With instructor guidance and through focused activities, learners are encouraged to think about and assess their learning. Assessment as learning:

  • is ongoing
  • is tied to learning outcomes
  • assists learners in becoming aware of their learning process
  • involves self-monitoring and self-evaluation
  • requires teacher direction and support

Assessment of Learning (summative assessment)

Assessment of learning measures the learners' abilities to meet outcomes after learning and practice have occurred. It can be formal or informal. Assessment of learning:

  • is tied to learning outcomes
  • occurs at the end of a learning theme or cycle
  • is used to evaluate whether learners have achieved the learning outcomes, and to what degree
  • is used to make decisions about learners' next placement


A Process Approach to Assessment Planning

Here are a series of questions that highlight the key considerations for planning, designing and implementing assessment:

Why am I assessing? 

  • Clarify the purpose of assessment: for learning, as learning, or of learning?

What am I assessing?

  • Clarify the outcome that is being assessed.     

What assessment method should I use?

  • Determine the most suitable assessment method (e.g. informal observation, learning log, rubric, etc.).    See the assessment methods table for more examples.

How can I ensure quality in this assessment process?

  • Design the assessment carefully so that it measures the intended outcome.

How can I use the information from this assessment?

  • Ensure that the information is used consistently with the assessment purpose.

(Adapted from Western and Northern Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Education (2006),  Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind)