Perspectives on Alternative Assessment Reform

6 June 2016

Andy Hargreaves and her colleagues examine alternative assessment techniques through four perspectives: the technological, cultural, political, and postmodern. The scope of the study focused on 29 grade 7 and 8 teachers from Ontario, and limited the scope of the study to a recent historical moment before the onset of conservatism in 1994 (Hargreaves et al., 2002).

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Under the technological perspective, teaching and innovations in assessment are seen as technologies and attention is turned toward the innovative techniques employed, and critiques such methods based on the organization of the material, the structure used to package this material, the strategies used by participants, and the skill employed in developing alternative assessment techniques.

Under this perspective, assessment reform is facing several problems; difficulties with refining valid forms of performance measurement and assessment, harmonizing expectations between school and home, and time and resource management.

Under the cultural perspective, assessment reform requires a shift in thinking and a melding of old and new techniques. Alternative assessment is concerned more with authentic assessment wherein learning is more about dialogue and building a common understanding of expectations. With political perspective, it views alternative assessment based on power and authority as it is vested in participants.

As school administrators, teachers, students and parents form political entities, political relationships can arise to hinder the development of assessment reform. In postmodern, three issues are of particular concern; the proliferation of information and increasing cultural diversity, the explosion of technological advances and identification of relevant knowledge and skill, and postmodern influences on children. The issues point to the idea that postmodern society is so complex that it is no longer possible to encapsulate learning outcomes into a comprehensive package.

Reference List:

Hargreaves, A., Earl, & Schmidt (2002 September). Perspectives on alternative assessment reform. American Education Research Journal, 39 (1), 69-95.

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