Assessment in Education Needs Rethinking in Bangladesh

Assessment is an act that can measure or judge the value, attitude, quality of something or someone. According to the Cambridge Dictionary assessment refers to the process of considering all the information about a situation or a person and making a judgment. The assessment is important in every sphere of life to ensure quality living in the quality world. Unless assessed, we cannot know the status of something, what needs to be done, and how to do that. This has become a fundamental component of every sector including education, science, commerce, and so on.

Although proper assessment is essential in every sector, assessment in education is today’s topic for discussion as proper assessment in education is believed to influence other sectors too. In education, assessment means a systematic process of gathering data of students’ learning and thus measuring their learning, aptitude, progress, weakness, etc.  Assessment in education is also used for sorting learners by their merits and traits and to support them based on their needs. This assessment is evidence of students’ progress and proof of the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the teaching methods and approaches.

Some of you may think that the process of educational assessment is only for the learners or students who are enrolled in different educational institutions, but this shed light on the teachers’ success or failure as well. Failure of a student is failure of the teacher to some extent. And different kinds of tests (writing test, MCQs, practical activities, speaking test, dramatization, etc.) are components of assessment. The findings or the results of a test is expressed through numbers or grades. For example, one student received 70 or 80 out of 100 but this 70 or 80 indicates a student’s excellence or poorness until we make a qualitative remark such as ‘the student is so good or the student is poor in — subject’. This qualitative remark in education or elsewhere is called evaluation. The role of assessment is also important for the policy makers, the education planners, curriculum specialists, and the education administrators for future planning and implementation of education policies of the government of a country. 

Assessment helps teachers to understand progress and regress of their students and they can find out the strengths and weaknesses with the teachers themselves, with the teaching approaches, with the curriculum, or with assessment or with a test itself. This enables educators to think about their teaching through a strong focus on specific learning objectives or approaches and teaching techniques. They can look for teaching gaps to fill with better and more suitable instruction using suitable pedagogy. Assessment has the ability to make educators understand what, how, and how much should be taught to their pupils. It can be learned by doing assessment what changes or modifications are needed in the lesson plans.

Bringing changes and modification in the curriculum and contents of textbooks in order to keep the education system matching with the demand of time is essential. Assessment plays an important role in the process of curriculum and textbook development directly or indirectly. The policy makers, curriculum developers and the education administrators always keep their eyes at the consequence and aftereffect of their decisions to take further decisions for achieving better output as well as outcomes. For this to happen, they have to conduct one kind of survey with students, teachers in different educational institutions. They need to have opinions and views from experts in the respective fields. The activities mentioned altogether is assessment. 

In the educational assessment, teachers or instructors have more purposes than others to be done or found out. A book, ‘A Teacher’s Guide to Educational Assessment’ was written by Dr. Iasonas Lamprianou and James A. Athanasou where they describe teacher’s purposes of assessment in some questions. I take those here in plain format for you. By assessing students, teachers can understand how realistic, fruitful or effective their teaching and teaching plans are, whether their students are ready for the next class, and what kind of difficulties.

Through assessment students can find out their strengths and weaknesses in some areas of study, and assessment helps them to grow intellectually. But the question is, if the teachers do not employ continuous assessment strategies and if they do not provide feedback to individual students, only giving marks or grades cannot help students grow.  For students’ development, assessment for learning (AfL) to happen is more important than assessment of learning (AoL) which means assessing the total knowledge a student has acquired from a particular course. Does AfL happen in Bangladesh education system or do teachers only provide marks or grades? Parents alongside teachers can be aware of their children’s learning (through AfL) not only for grades! Grades are not everything, learning matters in life.

Assessment has the ability to affect decisions about grades, advancement, placement, instructional needs, and curriculum. That is why the appropriate assessment is required, and when the question of appropriate assessment stands in front of us, we have to go through some ethical considerations such as plagiarism, cheating in the examinations, checking scripts properly, continuous feedback to students, validity and reliability of test and assessment, maintaining privacy regarding students’ information, etc. 

Finally, I would like to request the concerned authority to take necessary actions so that continuous assessment with written feedback to individual students gets priority in the assessment system of Bangladesh for real learning to happen. We are asking for quality education but for quality learning, we need to arrange frequent face to face feedback and written comments on the students’ written work submitted (exam scripts, assignment, homework, etc.) for assessment. Time matters! How much time we spend for individual students providing feedback and feedforward play a vital role for quality education!

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