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Developing Fine Arts Assessments
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Assessment Outcomes and Implications

Ways to Enhance Teaching and Learning

This section presents ways that assessment can enhance teaching and learning. The implications and outcomes of assessment depend on the purpose for which they were developed and administered as discussed below.

Assessment for Accountability Versus
Classroom Assessment

Meaningful Classroom Assessment

Assessment for Accountability Versus
Classroom Assessment

Most assessments that are administered at predetermined and specific points in time, and under highly standardized conditions (on-demand), are used for accountability. Because test administration conditions are standardized, the results enable valid comparisons of student achievement across classrooms, schools, and school systems. In contrast, classroom assessment provides information that impacts instructional decisions. Regardless of its purpose, student assessment provides evidence that adequate learning is taking place based on established content standards.

Assessments used for accountability are:

  • Often used for high-stakes purposes (e.g., passing a course, receiving a grade, determining graduation eligibility, or granting of a certification or an award);
  • Usually large-scale (i.e., administered districtwide, statewide, or nationally);
  • Typically administered on-demand; and
  • Noted for their hard-data results (i.e., scores, rankings, proficiency levels) that describe how well schools, school systems, and states are doing to ensure that all students achieve proficiency in targeted learning areas.

Classroom assessments are:

  • Rarely used for high-stakes purposes;
  • Administered under conditions that are typically less standardized in terms of timing and setting (but may be on-demand, as in the case of summative assessments);
  • Typically less controlled in terms of the nature of the assessment activities, such as the degree of scaffolding or teacher support provided for a particular assessment, and/or the grouping of test-takers (e.g., individual student, pairs, team administration); and
  • Noted for results that describe student profiles (e.g., strengths and weaknesses), provide diagnostic information, and present illustrative samples of student work.


Meaningful Classroom Assessment

Unlike large-scale assessments, the purpose of classroom assessment is to gain information about student learning that can shape further teaching and learning in a variety of ways.

Teachers can:

  • Identify skills and conceptual understandings that need reinforcement;
  • Identify and respond to misconceptions about, and misapplications of, content knowledge and processes; and
  • Monitor student progress.

Students can:

  • Revisit and revise work based on known criteria;
  • Use models of successful work (exemplars) as a “target” for their own learning; and
  • Self-monitor their progress.

Parents and other stakeholders can:

  • See evidence of ongoing teaching and learning; and
  • Identify the needs of students, classes, and/or schools and gauge the impact of, or need for, particular instructional resources.

Classroom assessment presents many challenges to teachers. Although teachers routinely evaluate their students' learning, practice in effective classroom assessment is not yet part of most preservice education programs. Therefore, most teachers have had little preparation for engaging in meaningful, ongoing assessment of student learning. For each classroom assessment teachers create, they should ask, “Will this assessment enable students to demonstrate that they have acquired the skills and knowledge described in the relevant content standards?” Some typical challenges include:

  • Creating or using assessments that align well with lesson or unit objectives and address established content standards;
  • Creating valid assessments that allow students to do well because they are proficient in the objectives (learning outcomes) being assessed;
  • Implementing assessment in reasonable intervals to effectively impact instruction;
  • Offering students adequate participation in the assessment process, enabling them to internalize criteria on which they are being evaluated; and
  • Providing adequate opportunity to examine assessment results to determine next steps for instruction.

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