Assessment 1: Critical Review Essay Example

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by Geoff N. MastersThe Need for Assessment ReformsCritical Review of


. (Masters, 2013 p. 5)In his article, the author observes that several reforms have taken place in the education system over the decades. The basis of these reforms emanates from assessment data of the education system either nationally or internationally. This is also useful in the standardization of the system in order to realize desired outcomes for learning experiences. Public exams and standardized tests remain relevant in the judgment of system evaluators who seek to ascertain student progress The Need for Assessment Reforms by Geoff N. Masters. This is a critical review of

.(Masters, 2013, p.6)Reforms in the education system have been orchestrated by the constant pressures from governments, leaders, parents and communities driven by the desire for reforms and better learning outcomes. The insatiable demand for high-quality data from institutions to inform crucial government policy decisions on the management of the education systems amongst other pressures such as growing insight on human learning, the focus on developing life skills as well as attributes, and modifications in the learning environment due to technological advances present constant pressure on the reform agenda of education systems

.(Masters, 2013, p.11)In this section, Geoff N. Masters delves into the need for fast-tracking reforms for educational systems. The growing interest from education stakeholders while comparing the performance of various learning institutions merits the reforms targeting the assessment of students to judge learning outcomes. The section explores the various pressures driving the assessment reforms agenda in detail accompanied by supporting evidence from various research studies. Finally, the author considered the potential impact of the pressures driving education assessments reforms in practice

Author’s arguments

Geoff Masters examined the factors contributing to the need for education assessment reforms. Based on his review, the factors constitute the pressures driving the reforms and include a demand for high-quality data to inform decisions, evolutionary changes in understanding human learning, growing emphasis for horning life skills and other attributes, and the technological advances in learning (Masters, 2013, p. 33).

According to Geoff, quality data informs decisions made at all educational levels by classroom teachers, vocational trainers, early childhood educators, tutors and lectures in learning institutions, leaders of institutions, the government and all stakeholders involved in education. The assessment data is useful in clarification of learners’ entry behaviors, establishing the students’ performance, monitoring progress and quality of learning interventions, student motivation, and provision of feedback that guides future action (Masters, 2013, 65–78). The diagram below illustrates the process of using feedback information to enrich future practices:

Figure 1: Educational decision-making loop

Assessment 1: Critical Review

. (Masters, 2013, p. 55) Geoff further examines the evolutionary advances in increasing insight on human learning as another source pressure driving the reforms in educational assessment. This understanding is a product of volumes of research in relevant disciplines related to learning such as cognitive learning, neuroscience, and effective pedagogical practices. The growing base of research evidence challenges conventional education approaches including student assessment and monitoring during the learning process

. (Masters 2013 56-71)Documented evidence attributes past experiences of learners and environmental exposure to influences on the students’ variability witnessed in learning programs. Additional studies reveal that human learning is active and constructive in nature whereby learners associate their known world in order to understand new learning experiences to understand current events. Moreover, research findings confirm that learning occurs progressively as the learners gain capacity to understand and undertake complex learning tasks. Consequently, learning aims at increasing the level of knowledge, understanding, skills and expertise as a fundamental principle. Further neuro-scientific studies explore the vital role of supportive emotional and social environments in brain development which motivates learners to learn effectively

. (Masters, 2013, p. 14) According to Geoff N. Masters, the prioritization by education systems and governments on the development of life skills as well as attributes is equally responsible for the educational assessment reforms. This is in consideration of the fact that modalities for assessing such competencies remain inefficient and ineffective due to overreliance on traditional assessment methods. The author observes that assessing life skills as well as attributes of learners is realizable by basing it on methodologies geared towards ascertaining the proficiency level of learners during the assessment time while recognizing the incremental development of these levels over time

.(Masters, 2013, p. 64) Finally, Geoff prospectively evaluates the potential contribution of new technological advances as a pressure for educational assessment reforms. The author bases this on available evidence on the use of simulations in science classrooms. Similarly, the author observes that technological advances provide interactive platforms for gathering assessment evidence on various aspects of learning by the creation of virtual environments. In addition, technology has the capacity to tailor assessments to reflect the levels of achievement for individual learners. Geoff Masters further postulates that electronic assessments provide opportunities for automatic recognition particularly for student errors as well as misunderstandings due to their intelligent diagnostic capacity. Lastly, the author explores rapid feedback as an additional potential for electronic assessments as opposed to paper-based methods of assessment that are known for delayed feedback

Evaluation of author’s arguments

. (Masters, 2013 p. 5). This is in tandem with Geoff’s observation that the demand for educational assessment data is driven by the education stakeholders’ desire to improve the standards of learning and their outcomes (Black & Wiliam, 2010, P.78 ). For instance, in the article titled Inside the Black Box-Raising Standards through Classroom Assessments by Black and William, the authors argue that assessments provide crucial evidence that informs key learning decisions. The same information is useful for raising the standards of learning and provides room for improving learning experiences (Pelgrum, 2013, p.104-187) A comparative analysis of existing literature in the field of educational assessments and reforms reveal similarities with Geoff Masters arguments summarized above

. (Wiliam, 2006, p. 17-26). In addition, Dylan too considers assessment as a reliable method for parents to judge the progress of their children against some set standards. Moreover, the author also notes that local authorities base their decisions on the educational assessment data obtained from institutions. However, Dylan also postulates that educational assessment improves the degree of individual and collective accountability for training institutions in regards the education offered to pupils. This is a fact that is lacking in the review by Geoff of the need to reform educational assessments (Wiliam & University of London Institute of Education, 2009, p. 34) In a separate article, Dylan William agrees with Geoff on the value of assessment data obtained by learning institutions. Dylan similarly confirms that assessment data is useful for training institutions to gauge their performance standards locally and internationally


This article is a masterpiece by Geoff N. Masters by providing cogent findings on fundamental considerations for educational assessment reforms. Essentially, Geoff’s review of the topic of assessment reforms is factual and relies on proven scientific information. The review confirms similar assertions by various studies articulating clearly the drivers behind educational assessment reforms. This, therefore, provides a useful resource for practitioners in the field of education as well as other stakeholders who rely on assessment data on effective and efficient strategic focus areas for steering the reform agenda within the sector. The findings remain consistent even in the author’s recent pieces on the same subject showing a great capacity for reliability on the information presented to readers.


. Web. 5 Mar. 2016.Google ScholarBlack, Paul, and Dylan Wiliam. “Inside the Black Box.” (2010): n. pag.

. Web. 5 Mar. 2016.Google ScholarMasters, Geoff N. “Reforming Educational Assessment: Imperatives, Principles and Challenges.” (2013): n. pag.

. Web. 5 Mar. 2016.Google ScholarMasters. “Towards a Growth Mindset in Assessment.” (2013): n. pag.

37.2 (2001): 163–178. Print.Computers & educationPelgrum, Willem J. “Obstacles to the Integration of ICT in Education: Results from a Worldwide Educational Assessment.”

. Web. 5 Mar. 2016.Google ScholarWiliam, Dylan. “Once You Know What They’ve Learned, What Do You Do next? Designing Curriculum and Assessment for Growth.” (2006): n. pag.

. Web. 5 Mar. 2016.Google Scholar Institute of Education, University of London, London, 2009. Assessment for Learning: Why, What and How?Wiliam, Dylan, and University of London Institute of Education.