Alternatives in Assessment of Achievements, Learning Processes and Prior Knowledge

Volume 42 of the series Evaluation in Education and Human Services pp 3-29

Assessment 2000: Towards a Pluralistic Approach to Assessment

  • Menucha Birenbaum

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The title Assessment 2000 would have sounded like science fiction a few decades ago, an opportunity to use my imagination in making creative and wild speculations about assessment in a distant future. However, less than half a decade before the due date, this chapter entails more modest and careful speculations, based on contemporary theories and on lessons gained from current practice. Indeed, it starts by introducing the most generic term currently used in educational literature with respect to assessment, i.e., alternative assessment. It briefly explains to what and why an alternative is sought and describes the main features of this type of assessment, as it is currently viewed. Of the various devices subsumed under the alternative assessment umbrella a focus is put on the portfolio describing its various types, uses and criteria for judgment. Next, criteria for evaluating alternative assessment and lessons to be learnt from current practice are discussed, and finally, a rationale for a pluralistic approach to assessment is presented.