Benchmark assessments are standardised tests that help compare student performance between individuals and school, offering invaluable data on how the school system is performing and what teachers can do to help improve their own classrooms. Benchmark assessment data is reshaping the education industry with its insight into how students, schools and nations are performing and offering everyone the opportunity to learn from each other. Here are four ways that benchmark assessment data is making waves in the education industry:
Benchmark assessment highlights the importance of looking beyond the curriculum
Having a strong curriculum is the backbone of any learning institution. However, since curriculum learning is based mostly on a shorter timeframe it can be difficult to measure performance over time and the impact on skills and competencies not covered in the textbooks.
Professional benchmark testing like the PISA for School test developed by the OECD is designed to look at the development of the student as a whole across a wide range of topics including reading, mathematics and science. By focusing on real-life scenarios they can measure understanding not just of the topics taught in school but also a broader range of capabilities like problem-solving and critical thinking. This is also vital to understanding the skills of students who may not be familiar with the topics taught within the recent school term, such as international students or students that have recently moved schools.
Breaks down school siloes and allows a deeper insight into the performance of the entire education system
One of the great difficulties of education in the modern age is how competitive the job sector has become, where students need to compete not just at the local level but also with candidates who come from abroad. This is why it is so important to ensure that the school is performing well by international standards.
Curriculum testing within schools is important to highlight whether students have understood the material they have been taught, however, this becomes difficult the more we consider performance at the global level, where students are taught a wide variety of topics. Benchmark testing is standardised to be accessible to all students, here and abroad, in order to help facilitate better measurement of performance and offer a more complete picture of what we can do better within our schools locally.
Allows for better decision-making based on hard evidence
Deciding on what needs to be taught, encouraged or improved is difficult if we only take a narrow view of a single classroom, which is why benchmark testing offers better data to educators, based on performance across country lines but also applicable at the individual student level. This allows teachers to better understand what individual students can do to get ahead, but also base decisions on policy, resource allocation and teacher education on hard data.
Encourages learning, collaboration and co-operation between educators
Teaching is a difficult job and many educators might feel isolated as they try and come up with new and innovative ways to improve the learning outcomes for their classrooms. Having data on how other schools and other teachers are performing can help pinpoint where educators are excelling and the types of strategies that work best with students. This knowledge, armed with evidence of what works, can help facilitate dialogue and knowledge sharing between educators who wish to improve the way that they approach their classroom.