The function of assessment in learning and development, is to provide a measure of progress, and record of achievement, within the agreed standards or criteria that have been set for performance. The three elements making up the function of assessment in learning and development are, Initial, Formative and Summative assessment.
The initial assessment category can identify any prior learning that has taken place, and any individual needs and support required to allow timely progress throughout learning and development. At initial assessment, it may also be appropriate to go through and complete an Individual Learning Plan (ILP), ensuring that during any learning and development, these can be referred to, showing progression to a set goal within the ILP or where further development is required. By setting goals for assessment to meet the individual learning requirements, an inclusive learning environment is promoted.
Formative assessment is ongoing assessment throughout any learning. This can be to a set goal within the ILP, or can be used to identify where additional support is needed if there are any specific areas identified for development.
Summative assessment usually occurs at the end of any learning, in the form of written tests or examinations. It provides a mechanism for which further learning and development has been identified, or for a specific deliverable that can be reached by any summative assessment.
Initial assessment is also the first stage of the Assessment cycle, which covers initial assessment, assessment planning, assessment activity, assessment decision and feedback, and review of progress.
After the initial assessment, planning for assessment takes place, which must be against set criteria, and be measurable. It reduces the amount of time that is required to conduct the end-to-end assessment process, by having clear and defined guidelines set up. Planning the assessment also gives a clear framework within which any assessment about learning and development takes place, and provides a strategic direction of the learning and development. It defines the learning outcomes being assessed, with, the when and how they will be done.
The next stage of the assessment cycle is the assessment activity that takes place, where this is measured, and where it is recorded. This needs to be fit-for-purpose and is either formative or summative as detailed above, and should be done to reflect required standards and assessment/performance criteria.
Following the assessment activity, there is the assessment feedback and decision part of the assessment cycle. This is where any evidence that has been prepared is assessed, and a decision recorded. The recording of that decision is done within the set guidelines, and shared with all stakeholders who have a vested interest in the outcome. This may include the awarding organisation, potential employers and others.
The final part of the assessment cycle is the review of progress. This may be to measure progress and achievements against the standards in place, or to provide data that can be used for quality-assurance and improvement processes against set national standards or best practices.