“A good assessment helps the learner to show you what she or he already knows.
(CABS: Third Edition)”
In this module, Community Literacy of Ontario (http://www.nald.ca/clo)
looks at the processes and activities involved assessing adult literacy
learners in Ontario. The processes used during intake, initial and ongoing
assessment, the development of a training plan and the actual delivery
of training should be viewed as parts of a continuum of learning and are
clearly situated within a learner-centred approach to assessment. An exit/transition
plan, exit assessment and follow-up are also part of this continuum but
are addressed in the exit and follow up module.
This module is not intended to provide an indepth examination of literacy
assessment in Ontario, nor is it a complete “how-to” course.
It has been written to provide an overview for practitioners new to the
literacy field or for those more experienced practitioners looking for
a review. In the resources section at the end of the module,
you will find a number of excellent resources that you can refer to for
more detailed information.
The task of assessing the learning needs of adults in literacy agencies
in Ontario is placed between two strong and equally demanding forces:
one of actual learning (what learning takes place and how) and the other
of accountability (how you prove that learning took place). In recent
years these forces have become increasingly intertwined. Any attempt to
treat them separately would place unnecessary burdens on the agency, the
practitioner and the learner.
Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) programs (http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/training/literacy/main.html)
in Ontario use a learning outcomes approach as the basis for instruction.
This approach requires that the learning process begin with an accurate
assessment of the skills that learners currently have, in conjunction
with goal-setting activities to identify what results or "outcomes" the learners hope to achieve by the end of the training. The learning materials and activities used in programs reflect the stated goals of each student. Learning materials and activities must also respect the range of learning needs and styles of adult literacy learners.
We assess student progress all the time. We observe actions and reactions
and make decisions based on our observations. Much of this happens at
an everyday, casual level and can be referred to as "informal" assessment. Because we are informally assessing all the time, it stands to reason that assessment is not an isolated event. It is part on the ongoing relationship between literacy staff, volunteers and students. It should indicate what the next steps are in the learning process. Although this informal assessment is important and useful, it is not enough. We also need to include more formalized processes and procedures.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
(MTCU) (http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/welcome.html), assessment is:
the gathering and analysis of information about the abilities, needs,
interests, learning styles and achievements of learners. Literacy practitioners
make judgments which assist them in setting and revising
informing learners of their progress and identifying
the successful completion of goals as set out in the training plan.
Assessment is a
joint activity, conducted by literacy practitioners in
co-operation with learners.
It is also important to note that MTCU's LBS program does not endorse a single, specific method of assessing literacy learning but rather encourages LBS agencies to use a variety of tools and methods appropriate to students' goals. For more information, please refer to MTCU's document, Common Assessment in the Literacy and Basic Skills Program
In the spring of 2005, MTCU hired a research firm to investigate and
provide advice on the topic of learner skill attainment. In particular,
they wish to investigate indicators that reflect gains both within and
between LBS levels. This research will build as much as possible on
the assessment approach of LBS delivery agencies. MTCU's
goal is to develop solutions that best complement the current system. The research
findings will be documented and put online in the fall of 2005. MTCU anticipates
that the research findings might lead to the development of assessment tools
that address the needs of specific populations. (Source: MTCU letters of March
2, 2005 and May 12, 2005; sent to all Ontario LBS delivery agencies.)
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