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Assessments can be defined as a systematic process of collecting and interpreting data

used to inform educators, students and stakeholders. Engaging students in continuous

assessments would reveal changes in students learning over a period of time, it not only

informs instructional practice but also empowers and motivates students to take charge of

their learning. Assessments can either be formative or summative, teachers should strive

to maintain a balance when preparing assessments for their students.

The assessments must be aligned to the curriculum and provide accurate information

about the student’s strengths and areas of needs, while also fostering continued learning.

The support of student’s learning is a key purpose of classroom assessments and it is

important to use these results to inform instructions. There are nine principles of assessment

to consider when preparing assignments for students.


Validity is the degree to which all accumulated evidence supports the intended

interpretation of test scores for the proposed purpose (AERA,2008, p 11) If an assessment

intends to measure achievement and ability in a particular subject area, but then measures

concepts that are completely unrelated, the assessment is not valid. The test must be in

alignment to what was taught for a student to be able to complete the task. In order to provide

evidence of a student’s learning, the assessment must be representative of the area of learning

being assessed- it must be on the specific lesson/topic taught. Assessing random topics will not

yield the responses required and therefore will not represent content validity. The results will

not measure a student’s overall learning achievement. If a student has a hard time

comprehending a question, a test will not be an accurate assessment of what the student truly

knows about a subject. Assessments should be at the correct reading level of the student. Some
students doubt themselves, they believe that they are not capable to meet the expectations of

their teacher and this may hinder their performance.


Reliability is the “desired consistency or reproducibility of test scores (Crocker &

Algin, 2008, p.105). If a child took the test again, we would want to know if the score is similar

or consistent over multiple testings’ (Brennan, 2006; Mc Millan & Schumacher, 1997). When

an assessment provides accurate and precise measurement of student’s learning, it will yield

the same results, no matter when the assessment occurs or who does the marking. Markers also

needs to be consistent, marks should be awarded similar across the board. For results to be

trusted, assessments need to be reliable and defensible. Assessments that have a low reliability

result in different interpretations of student’s knowledge depending on which assessment is

used. Greater reliability is required for information sources such as final examinations that

contribute to final grades. Teachers need to remember to be consistent when marking

assessments. Reliability will tell you how trustworthy a score on that test will be. Even if a test

is reliable, it may not be valid.


Validity is one of the most important criteria for the quality of a test. The term validity

refers to whether or not the test measures what it claims to measure. We would now look at the

end of term assessment for Form Two level. The paper is one hour and fifteen minutes and has

two sections. Section A comprises of twenty multiple choice questions while Section B has: -

Fill in the blanks, matching terms with pictures, identifying needs and wants (visuals),

completing a fryer’s model and computation of a budget. The total score of the examination

script is one hundred marks.

The assessment included all the topics covered in the curriculum for the specific period,

students had a working idea of the topics and would have completed mid - term assessments.

In terms of the principle of validity, all of the topics was known to the students and they were

given guide for preparation for examinations. Looking critically at the paper I noticed that the

instructions to candidates could have been in bigger font for those children who had problems

with reading. The multiple- choice questions were constructed and align with the measurement

and evaluation guidelines, the correct responses were not the same letter, they did not follow

the same pattern. Some students look for a pattern and then judge their answers on that pattern,

thus affecting the validity of the exam. Section B encompasses different types of question

structures that catered for the differentiated learning styles of the students. It had visuals,

matching of terms, completing the sentences and a mathematical aspect. Even though the

examination was constructed to meet the needs of the students, it did not conform and adhere

to the National Certificate Secondary Examination where students are given multiple choice

and open responses questions.

Reliability is also another important element of test quality. It refers to the consistency,

accuracy and precision of measurement of an assessment. If a person takes the same test again,
will they get a similar or higher score. If a test that yields similar scores for a person who

repeats the test is said to measure a characteristic of reliably. Taking into consideration the

assessment principle of “reliability”, the form two examination paper can be considered reliable

to some extent. Teachers were given a mark scheme as a guide to maintain that standardised

marking, if student’s responses weren’t in align to the mark scheme, marks were not supposed

to be awarded. Samples of scripts were supposed to be collected and submitted to the Head of

Department to check for quality and consistency in marking. It is difficult to determine if the

principle is being adhere too. If students are to take the same test again under different

conditions there is no guarantee that the results would be the same. As indicated earlier external

factors can have an impact on assessments.

Some of the external exams do not cater for the students with learning abilities, so

things like reading problems, visual learners and exam anxiety are some of the issues that affect

a child’s performance on examination day and thus having an impact on their results. Can we

measure how reliable this exam was?

To ensure that the following principles of assessment are considered when preparing

assessments for students, staff development programmes must be incorporated in the school

calendar of event for teachers in this specific area. Examinations scripts should pattern the

following examinations bodies like CXC and NCSE, so students will be exposed to the type

examinations structure and questions.