The importance of assessment in primary education

Written by s. herlihy
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Assessments are tests. An assessment may be made in any subject, including specific subjects such as social studies or chemistry, or more global skills such as writing ability that are used in many areas of learning. Primary education is generally defined as education that takes place in elementary school. Assessments serve many useful purposes in the field of primary education.

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Gifted Placement

An assessment test can measure a student's strengths in areas such as language ability or math skills. Assessment tests can confirm that a student thought to be gifted is indeed reading above grade level. Assessment tests can also indicate that a student has a previously unsuspected gift. This can justify placement in an advanced reading group or enrichment class.

Identification of Weakness

An assessment test may also help students find out about their weaknesses. A student may believe she understands material only to find out she is not up to grading standards. Such testing can be particularly useful in elementary school, when the opportunity to catch up to peers remains much easier. Students in fifth grade may just need a bit of help with reading or math skills rather than facing greater cognitive deficits as they approach high school.

Testing Educational Theories

A standardised test can help identify pedagogical methods that really work. School officials may discover that previously thought-out theories pertaining to specific educational practices do not work in actual practice. This can help improve education in the primary grades as teachers switch to more effective teaching methods.

Helping End Social Promotion

Social promotion is the practice of promoting children to the next grade even though they have not mastered grade-appropriate material. An assessment test can provide written proof that the student is not ready to advance to the third grade and may need extra help. School officials may decide to require the student to attend summer school to catch up to his peers and earn a true promotion.

Allocation of School Resources

Standardised assessment testing can help school district officials decide where best to allocate educational resources. School officials may discover that students are not reading at grade level or are behind in math understanding. As a result, these officials may decide that it makes sense to start an after-school program focusing exact attention on student weaknesses or even offer bonuses for teachers who can help students do better academically.

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