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7 The assessment system

Assessment is the ongoing process of gathering, analysing and reflecting on evidence to make informed judgments about the achievement or capabilities of individuals and cohorts.

Assessment plays an integral role in improving learning and informing teaching. Its fundamental purpose is to establish where learners are in an aspect of their learning at the time of assessment. 1

Assessment information has multiple uses, including:

  • provision of feedback to teachers, such as
    • diagnostic evidence of students’ strengths, ways of learning, areas of development, the depth of their knowledge, and their conceptual understandings, which informs the teacher, so they know what students can do, and what subsequent teaching is required to progress student learning
    • identification of students’ learning needs across a range and balance of assessments, which enhances teachers’ ability to establish where students are in their learning and to help them attain higher levels of performance
  • provision of feedback to students and parents/carers that gives
    • clear, specific, meaningful and timely feedback, allowing reflection on the learning process and collaboration to support future learning and development
    • evidence of student learning and advice for further progress, underpinning the provision of meaningful reports/statements to parents/carers and others
  • development of lifelong learners by enabling students to identify and reflect on the progress they are making, which is crucial to building self-evaluation, self-efficacy and self-responsibility for in-depth and long-term learning
  • refinement of quality teaching, by supporting teacher reflection and professional learning
  • provision of information for certification
  • measurement and evaluation of policies, programs, interventions and teaching strategies to provide better understanding of student achievement and growth.

1 GN Masters 2014 ‘Assessment: Getting to the essence’, Designing the Future, vol. 1, Aug 2014, pp. 1–6, Centre for Assessment Reform and Innovation (CARI),

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