THE NEED FOR ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT IN SCHOOLS


It is imperative that schools give adequate feedback to stakeholders involved in the educational sector. Parents, government, guidance and other key-players require a responsive description of their educational expenses. Hence, the need for evaluation in our schools cannot be overemphasized. Evaluation simply involves collection of relevant data, organizing the data and using these data so gathered to make decisions and/or pass judgements as to the worth of an educational program or how well students are faring in line with sets goals and objectives.

The need for gathering data with respect to what students have acquired in the learning process calls for a framework termed assessment. Assessment entails all procedures employed to obtain data as regards how well students are able to accomplish or acquire certain desired behavioral changes with respect to set objectives. Assessment centers on students or group of students’ achievement. In the educational setting, assessment is expected to center on the three domains as identified by Bloom in his taxonomy of educational objectives.

The domains are; the cognitive, the affective and the psychomotor domains. The cognitive domain focuses on the academic aspect of the student. It is the domain that supplies answers to most questions. It is the domain most schools center on. Assessment is usually concentrated here, as it has to do with mental recall or memorization of facts, regurgitation of meanings, understanding, analysis and interpretation of concepts, drawing relationships, and worth determination. Data are usually gathered through tests. The results obtained from this domain are usually represented with numerical equivalences or letter grades.

However, these results may not necessarily be true representation of the students’ worth or level of understanding of the concept being measured. Hence, the need for the second domain of education; the affective domain. The affective domain is the domain saddled with emotions, affections, feelings and any other aspect of socio-personal relationships. It takes receiving, responding, valuing, observation and characterization as key elements. This domain can be measure qualitatively by the use of sociometric tests, checklists, questionnaires etc. However, most schools do a face value evaluation, often assessed by posing questions such as relationship with others, leadership, cooperation, amongst others.

The psychomotor domain is the domain responsible for skill demonstration, performance, role-playing amongst others. It is usually seen as the domain responsible for the utilization of the hands (tactile) and the legs (kinesthetic). This domain is mostly utilized by sportsmen, artisans or skilled individuals. In the school system, the domain is usually rated via handwriting, handling of materials, engagement in sports, amongst others.

Thus, haven identified the domains of education, it becomes imperative to consider the procedures for gathering data as regards the worth or level of attainment in each domain. Often times, a student’s progress to the next level or class is solely based on his or her performance in the cognitive domain, leaving the two other domains unimproved or neglected. With this as the practice of our school system, it is impossible to present a holistic description of a student. Hence, where students are not able to regurgitate facts, such students may find it difficult progressing academically.

Most people will be quick in defending the schools’ practice of a single domain evaluation, and say individuals that encounter challenges academically be placed in special schools. But this argument or stance holds no ground, as the regular schools are expected to cater for all categories of students provided such students are neither deformed, nor handicapped, which in this case, calls for special schools or individualized instructions. Schools should constantly seek and emulate best practices that do not consider a single perspective to evaluation, hence, the call for alternative assessment.

The traditional forms of assessment utilize teacher made or standardized objective tests to elicit responses from students. This being good, but presents a shallow and narrow; one-end description of a students’ progress. The school should in cooperate into her evaluative strategies, the concept of alternative assessment. This assessment help present a holistic description of the student’s progress. They are usually gathered from the start of the program to the end of the program, where-in showing manifestation of progress.

These assessment procedures considers the three domains of educational objectives, and judgements gathered from the three domains are key in decision making and judgement. The student is usually an active determiner and a stake-holder in the data collection process. Since the student is adequately involved, he or she plans strategies that can help develop other innate talents. Thus, rather than been tedious, learning becomes fun, inclusive and conscious on the part of the students. Alternative assessment employ as instruments; students’ observation, portfolios, anecdotal records, problem solving, self-evaluation, group evaluation, models construction and presentation, simulations, podcasts, field works, exhibitions amongst others.

It should be added that alternative assessment can be visualized in two forms, these are; performance assessment and authentic assessment. Performance assessment presents the child with a demo of what to expect in future. In other words, students are usually pre-informed of the need to be adequately prepared for a task ahead. The students usually concentrate their efforts on presenting the best part of their abilities for their submission. The students are usually given adequate time to gestate. During the periods of gestation, students compare their previous performances and their present performances and identifies areas requiring improvement.

Authentic assessment on the other hand presents the students with task of real life occurrence or situations. Students are not pre-informed of the task ahead, but rather partake in the tasks as they emerge. Advocates of this assessment argue that since the students are expected to be members of the wider community or the world in general, they should not be given a pre-warning, as practitioners in the real world do not get a notice before embarking on tasks. An example might be the case of an accident victim, the doctors, caregivers or first aiders are usually not pre-informed of an accident, rather they take charge of such situations as if pre-informed.

Thus, schools are implored to make their assessments all inclusive, rather than basing their judgment on an aspect of the educational domain, and doing a face value evaluation of the other domains. With the use of alternative assessment, schools and teachers will be in best position to present detail description of their students. Similarly, students will be able to predict their successes, monitor their progress and readily conceptual their areas of interest at a tender age, rather than relying on less detailed facts.

 

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