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The Nexus Between Assessment and Curriculum

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

By: Dr. Kyra M. Caldwell Templeton


Assessment and curriculum are intertwined in various ways, some elements are positive and appropriate to enhance the learning experience and identify mastery and others are limiting and at times oppressive. Ultimately, it is challenging for education to exist without assessment and curriculum intersecting and working in tandem to ensure that learning occurs vertically and horizontally. Nonetheless, assessment and curriculum must coincide and share a common goal to improve student learning.

Teachers have the responsibility of preparing instructionally relevant assessments that have the following characteristics: clear, varied, and fair. Through diverse assessment models, all of which require learning outcomes; teachers can glean information to determine if students are learning. If students are not learning, assessments should be used to inform instruction and provide data for teachers to adjust. If students are learning, assessments can provide data to ensure the levels in which they mastered the information.

Curriculum development, teaching, learning, and assessment exist in a cyclical process. In order for this process to work effectively, the relationship between curriculum and assessment must be explicit. Learning outcomes should be intentional and the assessment aligned with the intent. In the development of the curriculum, the needs of the students served should always be considered and the assessments aligned to be relevant and fair.

"Assessment and curriculum must coincide and share a common goal to improve student learning."

The best practice in the creation of an assessment can be best supported through the implementation of the concept, “begin with the end in mind.” Curriculum development should initiate with, “What do I want students to learn?” Based on how the aforementioned question is addressed, the assessment ultimately guides the curriculum and solidifies learning outcomes and instructional methods to ensure mastery.

Although curriculum and assessment is heavily driven by state and national standards, they can be deconstructed and transformed to guide instructional aims to create a learning environment that has clear expectations that are assessed appropriately. There is an ongoing obligation for curriculum and assessment to be aligned because it provides data in which proficiency can be determined. Curriculum and assessment must work together to achieve a common goal, student achievement.

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