It is natural that a teacher has to assess the achievement of his pupils after his teaching, so that he can decide what he should continue to do with his teaching and his pupils. In other words, a teacher should have feedback on his teaching and based on this feedback, he can decide what he should do next. Will he continue his teaching to the next lesson? Will he need to repeat his teaching again on what he has already taught? Will he need to explain more on some parts of his previous teaching, so that all his pupils can understand every part of what he has taught? Or will he give some practical work for his students so that they will learn well not only by listening but also by doing it themselves?
For all these decisions, a teacher needs to assess how much and in which way his students have learnt. That’s why we need to do different kinds of assessments in different styles such as Tests, Examinations, Assessments, and Evaluations. Everyone of these have different amounts and different limits and different ways and different styles. And even in Tests, there are a lot of different Tests which have different values and different work they do. There are many more different kinds of tests, not only the popular Formative Tests and Summative Tests which are often mentioned during these days, especially by those who do not understand Educational Test and Measurement. All these are different according to their different functions.
Let us pause for a while, and let’s discuss about what to test, how to test and to what extent.
In brief, we can say, we should test.. MUST, SHOULD and COULD.
MUST first! That is the achievement a student must have after a lesson or a chapter. If he cannot learn what he MUST know after the lesson he cannot continue to study the next lesson or a higher level. He needs to know these facts so that he can continue his study to the next higher level or for the next standard. That is MUST. If a student wants to continue his lessons to the next higher stage, he MUST know these facts .
We should put at least 50% of these facts in a Test Paper or an Exam Paper.
If he cannot answer or cannot know all these 50% of the paper, it is impossible for him to continue his study to the next higher level.
The next one is SHOULD.
These are not the basic level of the lesson, but these are the facts a student should know after studying a lesson. Not the basic, but a little higher than the MUST level in his achievement.
Maybe about 25 % of a Test or Exam Paper.
In this way we can differentiate the achievement level of a student from others. He’s a good learner.
The last one, COULD.
This is for the student who works harder than others, who is bright, who has a deep thinking. This type of student has interest in the lesson and can use his own brain for critical thinking, creative thinking, application and so on up to the highest level of appreciating, evaluating and decision making, which is the highest level in learning.
This should be another 25% of the Test or Exam Paper for this COULD.
They will learn if they try their best, not only just doing rote-learning, but also thinking out from their own brains to gain all these highest levels of learning. If a student can reach up till this level, he’s brilliant, he can create, he can criticize, he can make his own decision well, even for his life.
So , teachers should bear in mind these three words, MUST, SHOULD and COULD, so that they can plan how they are going to assess the achievement of their pupils to get the best results out of their teaching.