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THE CONCEPTS OF TEST, MEASUREMENT, ASSESSMENT

AND
EVALUATION
These

concepts

are

often

used

interchangeably

by

practitioners and if they have the same meaning. This is not so.
As a teacher, you should be able to distinguish one from the
other and use any particular one at the appropriate time to
discuss issues in the classroom.
A. Measurement
The process of measurement as it implies involves carrying
out actual measurement in order to assign a quantitative
meaning to a quality i.e. what is the length of the chalkboard?
Determining this must be physically done. Measurement is
therefore a process of assigning numerals to objects, quantities
or events in oder to give quantitative meaning to such qualities.
In the classroom, to determine a childs performance, you need
to obtain quantitative measures on the individual scores of the
child. If the child scores 80 in Mathematics, there is no other
interpretation you should give it. You cannot say he has passed
or failed. Measurement stops at ascribing the quantity but not making value
judgement on the childs.

B. Evaluation
Evaluation adds the ingredient of value judgement to assessment. It is
concerned with the application of its findings and implies some judgement of the
effectiveness, social utility or desirability of a product, process or progress in
terms of carefully defined and agreed upon objectives or values. Evaluation often
includes recommendations for constructive action. Thus, evaluation is a
qualitative measure of the prevailing situation. It calls for evidence of
effectiveness, suitability, or goodness of the programme.
It is the estimation of the worth of a thing, process or programme in order
to reach meaningful decisions about that thing, process or programme.
The Purposes of Evaluation:
According to Oguniyi (1984), educational evaluation is carried out from
time to time for the following purposes:
1)

to determine the relative effectiveness of the programme in terms of

2)
3)

studentsbehavioural output;
to make reliable decisions about educational planning;
to ascertain the worth of time, energy and resources invested in a

4)

programme;
to identify students growth or lack of growth in acquiring desirable

5)

knowledge, skills, attitudes and societal values;


to help teachers determine the effectiveness of their teaching

6)

techniques and learning materials;


to help motivate students to want to learn more as they discover their

7)

progress or lack of progress in given tasks;


to encourage students to develop a sense of discipline and systematic
study habits;

8)

to provide educational administrators with adequate information

9)
10)

about teachers effectiveness and school need;


to acquaint parents or guardians with their childrens performances;
to identify problems that might hinder or prevent the achievement of

11)

set goals;
to predict the general trend in the development of the teaching-

12)

learning process;
to ensure an economical and efficient management of scarce

13)

resources;
to provide an objective basis for determining the promotion of
students from one class to another as well as the award of

14)

certificates;
to provide a just basis for determining at what level of education the

possessor of a certificate should enter a career.


C. Assessment
1. Definition of Assessment
Assessment is a broad term that includes all of the various
methods used to determine the extent of an individuals
achievement. In teaching and learning contexts, assessment
refers to the methods used to determine achievement of learning
outcomes.
Assessment is a fact finding activity that describes conditions that exists at
a particular time. Assessment often involves measurement to gather data.
However, it is the domain of assessment to organise the measurement data into
interpretable forms on a number of variables.
Assessment in educational setting may describe the progress students have
made towards a given educational goal at a point in time. However, it is not

concerned with the explanation of the underlying reasons and does not proffer
recommendations for action. Although, there may be some implied judgement as
to the satisfactoriness or otherwise of the situation.
In the classroom, assessment refers to all the processes and products which
are used to describe the nature and the extent of pupils learning. This also takes
cognisance of the degree of correspondence of such learning with the objectives
of instruction.
Some educationists in contrasting assessment with evaluation opined that
while evaluation is generally used when the subject is not persons or group of
persons but the effectiveness or otherwise of a course or programme of teaching
or method of teaching, assessment is used generally for measuring or determining
personal attributes (totality of the student, the environment of learning and the
students accomplishments).
A number of instrument are often used to get measurement data from
various sources. These include Tests, aptitude tests, inventories, questionnaires,
observation schedules etc. All these sources give data which are organised to show
evidence of change and the direction of that change. A test is thus one of the
assessment instruments. It is used in getting quantitative data.
2. The Purpose of Assessment
Assessment involves deciding how well students have learnt a given
content or how far the objective we earlier set out have been achieved
quantitatively. The data so obtained can serve various educational functions in the
school:

1. Classroom function
This includes:
a. determination of level of achievement
b. effectiveness of the teacher, teaching method, learning situation and
instructional materials
c. motivating the child by showing him his progress i.e. success breeds
success.
d. it can be used to predict students performance in novel situations.
2. Guidance functions
Assessment procedure can give the teacher diagnostic data about
individual pupils in his class. These will show the pupils strength, weaknesses
and interests. It can also help to decide on which method to use or what remedial
activities that are necessary. Parents and pupils can also be rightly guided in terms
of career choice.
3. Administrative functions
a. Assessing can serve as communication of information when data collected are
b.

used in reports to parents


It could form the basis upon which streaming, grading, selection and

placement are based.


c. Making appropriate decisions and recommendations on curricula packages
and curricula activities.
D. The Concept Of Continuous Assessment
By continuous assessment, we mean assessing or weighing performance of
students periodically to be able to determine progress made in teaching-learning
activities. Continuous assessment tests are used to evaluate the progress of students
periodically. Continuous assessment tests can be done daily, weekly, monthly,
depending on the goals of teaching and learning. Continuous assessment is defined in
the Federal Ministry of Education handbook as:

A mechanism whereby the final grading of a student in the cognitive,


affective and psychomotor domains of behaviour takes account in a
systematic way, of all his performances during a given period of schooling.
Such an assessment involves the use of a great variety of models of evaluation
for the purpose of finding and improving the learning and performance of the
students.
Continuous assessment thus is a veritable tool in assessment in that it is
comprehensive, systematic, cumulative and guidance oriented. Many schools in the
country have since embarked on the implementation of continuous assessment. It is
not surprising therefore to find teachers testing their pupils weekly, at the end of each
unit or module etc. In recent times however, these tests have assumed disciplinary
status to check noise making, absenteeism etc. At this juncture, Continuous
Assessment in practice ceases to be a tool for aiding learning. One can only call it
what it is Continuous Testing. I urge you to be aware of the practice of continuous
testing in our school system which is injurious to learning as against Continuous
Assessment that is being advocated. The following are the advantages of a continuous
assessment:
a.
b.
c.
d.

It provides useful information about the academic progress of the learners.


It makes the learner to keep on working in a progressive manner;
It informs the teacher about the teaching-learning effectiveness achieved;
It gives a true picture of the student academic performance since it is a
continuous process rather than one duration type of test which may be

affected by many variables such as sickness, fatigue, stress, etc; and


e. It makes learning an active rather than a passive process.

E. Test
a. The concept of test

Tests are detailed or small scale task carried out to identify the candidates
level of performance and to find out how far the person has learnt what was taught or
be able to do what he/she is expected to do after teaching. Tests are carried out in
order to measure the efforts of the candidate and characterize the performance.
Whenever you are tested, as you will be done later on in this course, it is to find out
what you know, what you do not know, or even what you partially know. Test is
therefore an instrument for assessment. Assessment is broader than tests, although the
term is sometimes used to mean tests as in I want to assess your performance in the
course. Some even say they want to assess students scripts when they really mean
they want to mark the scripts. Assessment and evaluation are closely related, although
some fine distinctions had been made between the two terms. Evaluation may be said
to be the broadest. It involves evaluation of a programme at the beginning, and during
a course. This is called formative evaluation. It also involved evaluation of a
programme or a course at the end of the course. This is called summative evaluation.
Testing is part of assessment but assessment is more than testing. Tests involve
measurement of candidates performance, while evaluation is a systematic way of
assessing the success or failure of a programme. Evaluation involves assessment but
not all assessments are evaluation. Some are reappraisal of a thing, a person, life, etc.
b. The Purpose of Tests
1) We conduct tests to find out whether the objectives we set for a particular
course, lesson or topic have been achieved or not. Tests measure the
performance of a candidate in a course, lesson, or topic and thus, tell the
teacher or course developer that the objectives of the course or lesson
have been achieved or not. If the person taught performed badly, we may
have to take a second look at the objectives of the course of lesson.

2) We test students in the class to determine the progress made by the


students. We want to know whether or not the students are improving in
the course, lesson, or topic. If progress is made, we reinforce the progress
so that the students can learn more. If no progress is made, we intensity
teaching to achieve progress. If progress is slow, we slow down the speed
of our teaching.
3) We use tests to determine what students have learnt or not learnt in the
class. Tests show the aspects of the course or lesson that the students have
learnt. They also show areas where learning has not taken place. Thus, the
teacher can re-teach for more effective learning.
4) Tests are used to place students/candidates into a particular class, school,
level, or employment. Such tests are called placement tests. The
assumption here is that an individual who performs creditably well at a
level can be moved to another level after testing. Thus, we use tests to
place a pupil into primary two, after he/she has passed the test set for
primary one, and so on. Tests can reveal the problems or difficulty areas
of a learner. Thus, we say we use tests to diagnose or find out the
problems or difficulty areas of a student or pupil. A test may reveal
whether or not a learner, for example, has a problem with pronouncing a
sound, solving a problem involving decimal, or constructing a basic
shape, e.g. a triangle, etc.
5) Tests are used to predict outcomes. We use tests to predict whether or not
a learner will be able to do a certain job, task, use language to study in a
university or perform well in a particular school, college, or university.
We assume that if Aliyu can pass this test or examination, he will be able
to go to level 100 of a university and study engineering. This may not

always be the case, though. There are other factors that can make a
student do well other than high performance in a test.
c. Aims and Objectives of Classroom Tests
Classroom tests have the following aims and objectives:
1) Inform teachers about the performance of the learners in their classes.
2) Show progress that the learners are making in the class.
3) Compare the performance of one learner with the other to know how to
classify them either as weak learners who need more attention, average
learners, and strong or high achievers that can be used to assist the weak
learners.
4) Promote a pupil or student from one class to another.
5) Reshape teaching items, especially where tests show that certain items
are poorly learnt either because they are poorly taught or difficult for the
learners to learn. Reshaping teaching items may involve resetting learning
objectives, teaching objectives, sequencing of teaching items or grading
of the items being taught for effective learning.
6) For certification we test in order to certify that a learner has completed
the course and can leave. After such tests or examinations, certificates are
issued.
7) Conduct a research sometimes we conduct class tests for research
purposes. We want to experiment whether a particular method or
technique or approach is effective or not. In this case, we test the students
before (pre-test) using the technique. We then teach using the technique
on one group of a comparative level, (i.e. experimental group) and do
not use the technique but another in another group of a comparative level,
(i.e. control group). Later on, you compare outcomes (results) on the
experimental and control groups to find out the effectiveness of the
technique on the performance of the experimental group

d. TYPES OF TESTS
Types of tests can be determined from different perspectives. You can look at
types of tests in terms of whether they are discrete or integrative. Discrete point tests
are expected to test one item or skills at a time, while integrative tests combine
various items, structures, skills into one single test.
DISCRETE POINT TESTS
As we have defined above, a discrete point test, measures or tests or one item,
structure, skill, or idea, at a time. There are many examples of a discrete point test.
For language tests, a discrete point test may be testing the meaning of a particular
word, a grammatical item, the production of a sound, e.g. long or short vowels, filling
in a gap with a particular item, and so on. In a mathematics test, it may be testing the
knowledge of a particular multiplication table. Lets give some concrete examples.
From the words lettered A-D, choose the word that has the same vowel sound as the
one represented by the letters underlined.
INTEGRATIVE TESTS
As you have learnt earlier on, tests can be integrative, that is, testing many items
together in an integrative manner. In integrative tests, various items, structures,
discourse types, pragmatic forms, construction types, skills and so on, are tested
simultaneously. Popular examples of integrative tests are essay tests, close tests,
reading comprehension tests, working of a mathematical problem that requires the
application of many skills, or construction types that require different skills and
competencies. A popular integrative test is the close test which deletes a particular nth
word. By nth word we mean the fourth, (4 th word of a passage), fifth word (5th word of

a passage) or any number deleted in a regular or systematic fashion. For example, I


may require you to fill in the words deleted in this passage.
Firstly, he has to understand the _______ as the speaker says _____________. He
must not
stop the _________ in order to look up a _________ or an unfamiliar sentence.
The tests requires many skills of the candidate to be able to fill in the gaps. The
candidate
needs to be able to read the passage, comprehend it, think of the appropriate
vocabulary items that will fill in the blanks, learn the grammatical forms, tense and
aspects in which the passage is written. When you test these many skills at once, you
are testing integratively.
The second perspective for identifying different kinds of tests is by the aim and
objectives of the test. For example, if the test is for recording the continuous progress
of the candidate, it is referred to as a continuous assessment test. Some of the tests
that are for specific purposes are listed below. The purpose for which the test is
constructed is also indicated.
1) Placement test: for placing students at a particular level, school, or college.
2) Achievement tests: for measuring the achievement of a candidate in a
particular course either during or at the end of the course.
3) Diagnostic tests: for determining the problems of a student in a particular
area, task, course, or programme. Diagnostic tests also bring out areas of
difficulty of a student for the purpose of remediation.
4) Aptitude tests: are designed to determine the aptitude of a student for a
particular task, course, programme, job, etc.
5) Predictive tests: designed to be able to predict the learning outcomes of the
candidate. A predictive test is able to predict or forecast that if the candidate is

able to pass a particular test, he/she will be able to carry out a particular task,
skill, course, action, or programme.
6) Standardized tests: are any of the above mentioned tests that have been tried
out with large groups of individuals, whose scores provide standard norms or
reference points for interpreting any scores that anybody who writes the tests
has attained. Standardized tests are to be administered in a standard manner
under uniform positions. They are tested and re-tested and have been proved
to produce valid or reliable scores.
7) Continuous assessment tests are designed to measure the progress of
students in a continuous manner. Such tests are taken intermittently and
students progress measured regularly. The cumulative scores of students in
continuous assessment often form part of the overall assessment of the
students in the course or subject.
8) Teacher-made tests are tests produced by teachers for a particular classroom
use. Such tests may not be used far-and-wide but are often designed to meet
the particular learning needs of the students.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD TEST
A test is not something that is done in a careless or haphazard manner. There are some
qualities that are observed and analyzed in a good test. Some of these are discussed
under the
various headings in this section. Indeed, whether the test is diagnostic or achievement
test,
the characteristic features described here are basically the same.
i. A good test should be valid: by this we mean it should measure what it is supposed
to measure or be suitable for the purpose for which it is intended. Test validity will be
discussed fully in unit 5.

ii. A good test should be reliable: reliability simply means measuring what it
purports
to measure consistently. On a reliable test, you can be confident that someone will
get more or less the same score on different occasions or when it is used by different
people. Again unit 5 devoted to test reliability.
iii. A good test must be capable of accurate measurement of the academic ability of
the
learner: a good test should give a true picture of the learner. It should point out
clearly areas that are learnt and areas not learnt. All being equal, a good test should
isolate the good from the bad. A good student should not fail a good test, while a
poor student passes with flying colours.
iv. A good test should combine both discrete point and integrative test procedures
for
a fuller representation of teaching-learning points. The test should focus on both
discrete points of the subject area as well as the integrative aspects. A good test
should integrate all various learners needs, range of teaching-learning situations,
objective and subjective items
v. A good test must represent teaching-learning objectives and goals: the test
should
be conscious of the objectives of learning and objectives of testing. For example, if
the objective of learning is to master a particular skill and apply the skill, testing
should be directed towards the mastery and application of the skill.
vi. Test materials must be properly and systematically selected: the test materials
must be selected in such a way that they cover the syllabus, teaching course outlines

or the subject area. The materials should be of mixed difficulty levels (not too easy or
too difficult) which represent the specific targeted learners needs that were identified
at the beginning of the course.
vii. Variety is also a characteristic of a good test. This includes a variety of test
type:
multiple choice tests, subjective tests and so on. It also includes variety of tasks and
so on. It also includes variety of tasks within each test: writing, reading, speaking,
listening, re-writing, transcoding, solving, organizing and presenting extended
information, interpreting, black filling, matching, extracting points, distinguishing,
identifying, constructing, producing, designing, etc. In most cases, both the tasks and
the materials to be used in the tests should be real to the life situation of what the
learner is being trained for.
REFERENCES
Bloom, B. S. (1966) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook 1 Cognitive
Domain, David Mckay Co. Inc.
Macintosh H. G. et al (1976), Assessment and the Secondary School Teacher:
Routledge &
Kegan Paul.
Martin Haberman (1968) Behavioural Objectives: Bandwagon or Breakthrough
The
Journal of Teacher Education 19, No. 1:91 92.
Davies, A. (1984) Validating Three Tests of English Language Proficiency:
Language
Testing I (1) 50 69

Deci. E. L. (1975) Intrinsic Motivation. New York: Plenum Press.


Mitchell R. J. (1972), Measurement in the Classroom: A Worktest: Kendall/Hunt
Publishing
Co.
Obe E. O. (1981), Educational Testing in West Africa: Premier Press & Publishers.
Federal Ministry of Education Science and Technology: (1985) A handbook on
Continuous
Assessment.
Ogunniyi, M. B. (1984). Educational measurement and evaluation, Longman
Nigeria. Plc.