Components of a Balanced Assessment System

  • A balanced approach to assessment includes a variety of tools and strategies that are varied, reliable, and provide sufficient measures of student learning. These happen throughout the learning process and should include a student reflection component. Teachers need to know what students know and can do in order to provide effective instruction. Therefore, balanced assessment programs must include both formal and informal opportunities for students to demonstrate their current levels of mastery.

    A balanced assessment system encompasses several layers of assessment.

    • At the district level, this reflects a continuum of assessment tools whose data correlate and measure all dimensions of student learning rather than looking at one domain.
    • At the school or grade level, balance requires the use of multiple measures to gain a big picture view of student performance in order to monitor the progress of a class or cohort of students.
    • At the instructor level, balanced assessments are used to form instructional groups, identify interventions needed, monitor progress, determine specific learning needs of each student, and provide opportunities for students to self-assess and reflect on their learning. Both formal and informal measures are used to guide decision-making.

    Critical Components

    • Variety of assessments
    • Constructive and specific feedback is given regularly to all students.
    • All components fit together to provide a learner profile.
    • Data collection occurs regularly within the classroom – progress of learners is monitored frequently.
    • Individual and aggregated assessment data is made accessible to both teachers and administrators.
    • Analysis or interpretation of data is performed regularly through a process of inquiry.
    • Data is used to guide daily instruction, make changes to the curriculum, and guide program development.
    • Students have an integral role in the assessment process as they reflect on their progress and set personal goals for the next step in their learning.