As much as we might want to embrace the "everyone's a winner" mentality, evaluation is a crucial component of education. Without evaluation and measurement, it is impossible to know a student's needs and preferences. Evaluation is also used by colleges to determine which students can be admitted. While the specific purposes of measurement and evaluation can vary, there is one underlying theme: measurement and evaluation are required to determine whether students are learning.
The most basic purpose of educational evaluation is to determine what a student's needs are. With proper testing and evaluation in the early grades, learning disabilities and handicaps can be identified and dealt with. Without testing, problems can go unrecognized for years. While educational testing cannot in itself be the basis for a diagnosis, it can point students in a direction that may ultimately lead to psychologist, who can diagnose conditions.
In the 21st century, there is much emphasis on specialization in education. In today's complex, knowledge-based economy, students must have specialized skills before they can have a successful career. The streaming of students into educational programs begins with standardized testing, which identifies student aptitudes and abilities. While standardized tests are somewhat controversial due to their potential for misuse, there is no denying that they can be effective in identifying intellectual gifts and helping students know the areas in which their talents can be useful.
Education is effective when students improve over time. Without measurement and evaluation, it is impossible to know whether students are making any progress. Tests and assignments can tell teachers which students know the material, which students are trying to learn and which students are not trying at all. While evaluations are not perfect in determining student achievement (some students underperform in spite of effort because of learning disabilities), the progress in a student's grades over time can say a lot about where that student is and where he needs to be.
Eventually, students get to their last year of high school. At this point, a student needs to score the best grades possible in order to get into a good college. While it is possible to debate the merits of college admissions processes based primarily on grades, there is no question that such a process is in place at many colleges. Therefore, a rigorous system of testing and evaluation, in which teachers provide students with many smaller assignments in order to address issues before the big assignments, will help a school's college placement rate in the long run.
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