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Assessments & Examinations

Are you measuring students’ performance the right way?

“What’s it going to be?” This is the question about results that haunts students. Students are not just worried about doing well on an exam but are anxious about the result too. Why are the results causing stress? Are there limitations in the way we measure students’ academic performance? 

Let’s have a closer look at how students’ performance is being measured currently and how we can improve it.

How have we been testing knowledge?

The norm-based assessment is popularly followed where the performance of a student is measured based on the performance of a co-student. The major shortcoming of this type of assessment is its comparative nature. A student is considered a good academic performer if the co-students under perform. The same student is considered academically poor when co-students outperform him or her. The focus, here, is on the performance of peers, rather than on the performance of the student in question. Popular norm-based tests include IQ tests, common college entrance tests like  CAT, SAT and XAT. These tests can gauge language ability, grade readiness or learning disabilities. 

Its effect on young learners

This type of analysis does not test the knowledge of a student. It only helps in identifying his or her status among others learning the same subjects. Apart from this, a norm-based analysis is non-inclusive. It does not take into account the age, gender, race and physical abilities of students, leaving some at a disadvantage over the others. This method is discouraging to students as it takes away their self-confidence. Albert Einstein said, ‘Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ 

Such analysis creates fear of failure as the students do not have control over the outcome of their performance. They can never be sure what will hold them back from achieving a particular academic goal because it depends on their peers’ performance. It could bring in an unhealthy competition that could lead to negative emotions like jealousy. Furthermore, norm-based tests assess skills in a generic way, leaving out a number of other variables that can be tested. 

The norm-based analysis does nothing to eliminate the ingrained inequalities between students like access to better classrooms, affordability of better learning aids, etc. Analysing students in the norm-based way compels them to associate prestige with excellence. Greater prestige leads to greater success. With this assumption, students are pushed to aim for popular universities even if less popular universities have something better to offer. 

An effective solution

What is a suitable alternative that helps educators overcome these obstacles and measure students’ performance more effectively? The answer is criteria-based assessment. This type of assessment focuses on individual student performance. The fixed criteria of testing makes this possible. It measures a students’ performance based on predetermined learning standards that are uniform. 

The criteria-based assessment highlights the individual academic journeys of students. It helps teachers identify the strengths and weaknesses of every student and work on them accordingly. Criteria-based assessments are of two types – high stakes tests and low stakes tests. High-stakes tests help in making valuable decisions about schools, teachers and students. On the other hand, low stakes tests are those that provide information about learning progress, learning disabilities and instructional adjustments. 

For all kinds of learners

Criteria-based assessments will have goal-related questions in multiple formats – MCQ, fill in the blanks or open-ended questions. The idea is to understand the extent to which the concept in each chapter of any subject the student has understood. This makes identifying learning gaps easy while adding value to the educational experience of students.

Accuracy in testing and evaluation is crucial to get the complete benefit of knowledge testing. It can only be achieved with contemporary scientific methods. 

Understanding the need for accurate knowledge testing, we, at Next Education, present to you Next Assessment – a tool that enriches the teachers’ and students’ experience. We also offer AI-powered Adaptive Assessment to match the unique educational needs of young learners. Click here to know more. 

Kruti Beesam

Kruti enjoys blogging and listening to music. She actively tries to sensitise people towards disabilities and create awareness about the need for wheelchair friendly infrastructure. Being a foodie, Kruti looks forward to meeting new people and sharing a good meal with them.


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