The general public often uses the terms assessment, test, measurement, and evaluation interchangeably, but it’s important for you to distinguish among them. The meanings of the terms, as applied to situations in schools, are explained in the following paragraphs. This section explains the relationship among these terms and the way assessment inform educational decisions.
Assessments is… a process for obtaining information that is used for making decisions about students, curricula, programs, and schools; educational policy (Nitko&Brookhart, 2011:3). When we say we are “assessing a student’s competence”, we mean we are collecting information to help us decide the degree to which the student has achieved the learning targets. A large number of assessment techniques may be used to collect this information. These include formal and informal observations of a student; paper-and-pencil tests; a student’s performance on homework, lab work, research papers, projects, and during oral questioning; and analyses of a student’s record.
A test is … an instruments or systematic procedure for observing and describing one or more characteristics of a student using either a numerical scale or a classification scheme (Nitko&Brookhart, 2011:5). Test is a concept narrower than assessment. In schools, we usually think of a test as a paper and pencil instrument with a series of questions that students must answer. Teachers usually score these tests by adding together the points a student earned on each question. By using this test, teachers describe the student using numerical scale.
Measurement is …a procedure for assigning numbers (usually called scores) to a specified attribute or characteristic of a person in such a way that the numbers describe the degree to which the person possesses the attribute (Nitko&Brookhart, 2011:6). An important feature of the number assigning procedure in measurements is that the resulting scores maintain the order that exists in the real world among the people being measured. For example: if you are a better speller than we are, a test that measures our spelling abilities should result in your score (your measurement) being higher than ours. Assessment is a broader term than test or measurement because not all types of assessments yield measurements.
Evaluation is…a process of making a value judgment about the worth of a student’s product or performance (Nitko&Brookhart, 2011:6). Evaluations are the bases for decisions about what course of action to follow. Evaluation may or may not be based on measurements or test result. Evaluations does occur in the absence of tests, measurements, and other objective information. That using test and measurements greatly improves evaluation is itself a bias toward the technological.
Nitko, A.J & Brookhart, S.M. 2011. Educational Assessment of Student. Boston: Allyn and Bacon