Ensuring Equity in Assessment

Sep, 2021

Holla Koala

Ensuring Equity in Assessment

Do your assessment practices and outcomes translate to equitable learning in the classroom? Focusing on equity in assessment provides a complete picture of the learning environment, which in turn uses all available information to help provide context to learners, inform decisions on how to improve classrooms best, and eliminate equity gaps. 

 How can you make assessment and learning more equitable in your institution?

Defining Assessment

Pedro Noguera wrote, “We must teach the way students learn, rather than expecting them to learn the way we teach.” This simple but powerful reminder is the starting point for thinking about assessment.

Assessment hopes to inform learning decisions—for the student and the educator—by using every resource available.

This can be outlined in several ways, including:

  • Formative Assessment. This improves the quality of student learning and instructor teaching during the learning experience.
  • Summative Assessment. Summative assessment provides evidence for evaluating or grading students, such as exams, research papers, and portfolios.
  • Authentic Assessment. A form of assessment where students are asked to perform real-world tasks to demonstrate essential knowledge and skills.

Knowing the goals behind assessment practices and outcomes is critical to student and institutional success.

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning

When thinking about equitable assessment, a fourth option may be helpful. Culturally responsive teaching and learning provide a relevant, responsive, strength-based approach to assessing your students’ work.

A culturally responsive model:

  • Provides positive perspectives
  • Sets learning within the context of culture
  • Centers the student and redefines the teacher’s role as facilitator
  • Reshapes the curriculum to meet all student needs
  • Communicates high expectations

These changes allow instructors to ask an important question—”What do I want my students to learn?” The answers that follow bring up questions about how schools measure learning, how they can best test diverse groups rather than focusing on skills tested in particular forms of assessment, and uncover what students haven’t learned during a course.

Adopting a culturally responsive model helps teachers, students, and institutions increase their equity impact.

Increasing Your Equity Impact

Equity impact, defined, shows how organizational programs, policies, or similar initiatives affect different populations in that organization. For colleges and universities interested in bringing equity to their assessment abilities, this not only provides useful information—it also helps you assess and ultimately prepare your students more effectively.

An equity-based assessment model requires a broader assessment approach that starts by acknowledging that different students will learn in different ways in a classroom. As a result, institutions are tasked with clarifying the expectations surrounding assessment activities by using consistent, repeated instruction to students in multiple forms that help students see how these outcomes will help them in their degrees and future work.

Institutions must also provide options for different assessment routes, creating a “common ground” for everyone in the course. This can include narrative, symbol-based, and various other learning processes that help students use their strengths to apply concepts and ultimately help measure learning.

Finally, giving early and frequent opportunities for students to receive feedback and acknowledge progress is crucial. Look at whether grading emphasizes learning or getting an answer in a particular way. Also, look at how students receive feedback. Is it happening early in the course? How are they able to use that feedback to build additional success in the course? 

 Ultimately, the goal is to support students, empower faculty, and provide assessment practices that allow for intentional success.

Take Your Assessment to the Next Level with eLumen

At eLumen, we believe that curriculum lies at the heart of all academic systems, and it is where real assessment starts. By implementing a smart curriculum, institutions can define course attributes and information that can directly translate assessment efforts.

In eLumen course learning outcomes, academic programs, and institutional objectives come to life by connecting automatically to data collection, assessment, and strategic initiatives, thus becoming the most vital part of the academic operating system.

With eLumen, collecting data for assessment embeds seamlessly to the process of day to day teaching and learning. By centrally managing assessment projects using flexible rubrics and collecting evidence through multiple methods such as student uploads directly into the LMS, faculty uploads, and student portfolios, assessment can truly become part of continuous improvement.

With eLumen’s solutions and services, we can help your institution take its assessment to the next level.