Understanding different student needs in the teaching and learning process can be indeed helpful in determining whether the teaching and learning objectives are achieved. Different learners are blessed with different skills and abilities such that all of them need to be accommodated in the learning process and that is why an action plan needs to be formulated in order to ensure that this is achieved (Schlechty, 1997).
This action plan should be geared towards discovering each student needs and addressing these needs so as to enhance the teaching and learning process. When testing the learning process the two forms of testing that are most applicable are norm referencing and criterion referencing (Schlechty, 1997).
When a test is criterion referenced, testing is measured in terms of objectivity whereby the learner is gauged by checking whether he or she, uses an objective standard or achievement level. This entails finding out whether the learner meets the set standards so as to determine whether the learner satisfies the expectations of the education system.
Each grade or level in the education system has got its own standards which the learner has got to meet, so the test should be able to give results or the reflection of the capabilities of the learners regardless of the performance of others in the same level.
Norm referenced kind of tests are those that a student’s performance is measured in reference to the performance of a group (Miller, 1989). The composition of the norm group is usually the determinant of the performance of an individual in that group. For instance, when an individual’s performance in physics stands at the 90th percentile out of the possible 100 per cent, it is not obvious that the student is a good perform until the performance of the other norm group members is considered.
So therefore norm referencing is important because many a time it helps the teacher gauge the performance of students so as to determine the student’s abilities. Once the student’s weaknesses and strengths are identified, then both the learner and the teacher are able to know which areas to improve on.
In criterion referenced tests, the student will show his or her ability to perform in a given task at a particular level (Popham, 1971). This way, an individual performs a task and the degree of difficulty is seen and this will be in direct reference to the capabilities of the individual at a personal level and not in reference to a group.
This way, the individual effort is measured not against any other student but rather individual effort is seen. The expected standards are usually set so that the student is measured and graded alongside these standards. Therefore when a test sets a goal for a student so that the student either passes or fails the test (Popham, 1971) is used basically to test the student at an individual level. Such tests are those used to grade students for graduation from one level of education to the next.
Both of these tests should measure the progress of the students towards achieving the goals of education. The skills of the learners should therefore be assessed appropriately (Popham, 1971). The learning task should at all times be viewed by the learners as a means of acquiring the necessary knowledge and skill such that when tested, they should not see this as a form of punishment.
The learners should be motivated by the tests to work hard not to satisfy the examiner and the teacher but rather to examine themselves and see whether the fruits of education are borne (Miller 1989).
Miller, L. J. (1989). Developing Norm Referenced Standardized Tests. New York. The Haworth Press Inc.
Popham, W. J. (1971). Criterion-Referenced Measurement: An Introduction. Englewood Cliffs, Educational. Technology Publications Inc.
Schlechty, P. C (1997). Inventing better schools: an Action Plan for Educational Reform. San Francisco. Jossey – Bass Inc.