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Assessment Tools in a Language Arts Classroom


Performance assessment is gaining popularity among educators throughout the world. Therefore, teachers ought to be updated on the most recent and most effective assessment tools. They must learn how to utilize the tools efficiently in assessing student understanding and performance on certain objectives. This paper compares some of the most commonly used assessment tools by looking at their advantages and disadvantages.

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A rubric is a technique of recording students’ performance in an assessment where various standards are evaluated and where the quality of individual performance is vital (Tompkins, 2009). A rubric is designed as a guide that aids the assessor in making uniform and consistent judgments on the excellence of student performance. An educator using rubrics uses marking criteria that entail the elements considered during the process of scoring such as the superiority of the argument and the amount of research done.

Rubrics are useful in categorizing the work of a student since the work is graded against a preset standard and outlines the criteria for meeting the set standard. Rubrics also offer an objective way of recording grades without requiring the student’s personal details. Using rubrics in language art assessment is important since they deliver feedback to the learners on the quality of their performance and how best to make improvements.

One of the disadvantages of rubrics is that they do not take the student’s environment into account. Some students work hard to grasp concepts but are impeded by factors such as family problems and personal learning challenges. Rubrics may also be too analytical to use when grading creative projects and may not cover all the intangible factors in an art assessment.


Assessments using checklists are suitable when the educator is examining for the presence of particular elements in the performance of the students (Tompkins, 2009). The assessor uses a formulated checklist to mark every element as addressed by the student. The total score comprises the total number of elements checked.

Checklists are useful in progressive assessment to monitor the improvements made by students towards attaining certain goals. Teachers can employ observation checklists for developmental assessments that focus on particular social skills, oratory skills, reasoning, and writing skills. Checklists also provide a means for self-assessment and peer assessment without requiring the teacher’s input. The problem with checklists is that, unlike rubrics, they do not include anything about the quality of the student’s performance and merely indicate when the student meets the set objectives.

Anecdotal Records

Anecdotal records present chances for documentation of the gradual growth in the performance of students over a period. The on-the-spot recording offers an economical, non-threatening, and measurable technique of collecting an assortment of information on the academic progress of students as well as their social and psychological advancement (Campbell-Rush, 2008). Anecdotal annotations can be made at the end of each lesson, day, or week. Consistent anecdotal recordings provide indications of improvement and patterns of conduct not usually depicted by other assessment tools. This form of assessment is also useful since it enables the teacher to focus on certain attributes of the students such as attentiveness, effort, the time taken to complete the task, and the student’s organizational skills. Records of such information can guide teachers in the areas that require improvement for each student. The main problem with this form of assessment is that it is time-consuming and requires regular updates of the records.

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Rating Scales

A rating scale is a scale that assigns a numerical value to one or more assessment criteria (Tompkins, 2009). It can be employed to inform students of the requirements of an assessment and to what extent they meet the set criterion. The main upside of this tool is its ability to match a score to a chosen criterion. However, rating scales do not inform students about how they can improve performance.


Assessment is an important part of education as it allows teachers, parents, and students to measure performance and devise means of improvement. These assessment tools are among many that should be used complementarily to cover for the weaknesses of each other.


Campbell-Rush, P. (2008). Teachable moments: Linking assessment and teaching in talk around writing. Language Arts, 86(5), 352-361.

Tompkins, G. E. (2009). Language arts: Patterns of practice (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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