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The importance of quality assessments

Linda McKee from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education explains to find out the effectiveness of a training program.
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All over the world, educators are under pressure to deliver better outcomes for their learners to ensure that they are well equipped for the demands of the 21st century. One of the most effective ways for us to help deliver these outcomes for learners is to ensure that their educators are well-prepared to deliver this, but how do we find out the effectiveness of our training programmes on educators? At its core, quality assessment is very much about being able to use data to identify and measure excellence. Let’s take a look at those two thoughts in more detail. Identifying excellence is about trying to identify what ‘good’ outcomes of a process look like.
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In the area of educator preparation, a good outcome might involve the educator being able to demonstrate and apply a range of assessment strategies that respond to the needs of their learner. It’s important for our organisation to be able to identify that our educators are achieving this. And by using a range of quantitative and qualitative measures, we can keep records of the outcomes of the process. This measurement stage is important for us because it allows us to answer questions like ‘Are the educators we’re training now better equipped to deliver positive outcomes for learners than those we trained last year or five years ago?’. In other words, by measuring excellence, we can identify whether we are producing better educators.
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Over the next few steps, we’ll explore some of these ideas in more detail. First, you’ll look at the types of strategies that are used to measure educator preparation and how these strategies differ from country to country. In particular, we’re interested in hearing from you about your experiences of assessment in your country. Of course, these strategies for measuring educator preparation differ around the world as each country will have different aims, and we’ll be looking at the strengths and weaknesses of some of the various national frameworks for assessing educator quality. For many providers, these national frameworks won’t be enough.
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These providers should understand the needs of their aspiring educators better than a national framework ever could, so they choose to develop their own local instruments for measuring performance in their educator preparation programmes. You’ll examine the theory behind the development process of these tools and we’ll ask you to discuss the extent to which this rings true with your own experiences. In the latter half of this week, we’ll introduce you to a case
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study that explores three vital elements of quality assessment: validity, reliability and fairness. The work that you do this week will lay the foundation for the rest of the course, where you’ll examine two
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specific methods for measuring outcomes: rubrics and surveys. Using these to develop robust quality assessment measures will help you prove the effectiveness of your training programs.
This course is primarily aimed at those involved in the planning and administration of assessments that test the quality of a teacher training program.
If you’re not involved with creating or carrying out this kind of assessment, don’t worry – the concepts we’ll be discussing in the course can of course be applied to the measurement and evaluation of any kind of education project.

Learning outcomes for this course

By the end of this course, you should be able to:
  • Summarise the importance of validity, reliability, and fairness in building quality assessments.
  • Discuss the role of rubrics within quality assessments.
  • Design effective rubrics for use in evaluating performance.
  • Discuss the role of surveys within quality assessments.
  • Design effective surveys for use with a selected audience.
Over the next few steps, we’ll start by looking at assessment at the macro level. Why is it such an important part of every education program? In what forms does assessment take place around the world?

What’s the big question?

Let’s look at those outcomes in another way: as a ‘big question’ we intend to help you answer over the next three weeks:
What tools can you use to prove your program is producing excellent results, and how do you know those tools are reliable?
Spend a few minutes reflecting on the question before you move on. Try posting a short response – ideally, a single sentence – to express your current thoughts.
You’ll find it useful to capture your thinking, so that you can return at the end of the course and see whether your feelings have changed.
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Designing Assessments to Measure Student Outcomes

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