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Rethinking large-scale assessment

Lyn Shulha and Robert Wilson

This paper examines the implications of using large-scale assessment results (a) to make judgements about student achievement of educational goals and (b) to provide educators with directions for improving teaching and learning. First, an exploration of the goals of education and how they are developed is outlined, followed by a description of large-scale assessment programmes.  The construct of validity in both a programme sense and an assessment sense is described, followed by an analysis of the degree to which large-scale assessment programmes adhere to the resultant criteria. All of this discussion is then related to the experiences of two classroom teachers as they confronted their own dilemmas in assessing their students’ achievement and their growth towards educational goals.  Finally, the paper analyses the twin practices of large-scale and classroom assessment and makes some recommendations for future investigation of how they fit together.

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