In the present age, we need to impart language education in a way that learners find it meaningful and beneficial. Learners will be convinced of the benefits if they are able to use the target language (here, English as a second language) to communicate successfully. One of the ways of enriching language education is to use assessment in an ongoing form and capture learner growth. This assessment form, most often, would require learners to use the target language in an array of real life contexts with reference to specific language skills such as reading and writing.
Continuity in use of the target language through ongoing assessment procedures can assure learners of an immediate language gain. Let us try to understand how this language gain might take place with the help of an example. Imagine two instances of language use through two types of language assessments: in one, learners in the secondary level are asked to perform on a timed, objective item-based, short language test; in the other the same group is asked to perform on an extended language assessment in class where they have to read a text on the pros and cons of using social networking sites for present age communication. After having read the text, the learners would have to express their opinion on the same topic in a group. This assessment will not be strictly timed and can span over a few lessons interspersed with teacher’s assessment and feedback, learners’ opinion on the group discussions and so on. To evaluate the degree of usefulness of these two types of language assessments, we can pose the following questions: In which context is language use going to be more? Where is language production going to happen in a relatively easy and less anxious manner? Which assessment mode are the learners likely to find more useful? The answers to all the three questions will undoubtedly be pointed to the second case of assessment. So, from this short example we can suggest that when language assessment is done in an ongoing and communicative manner, it requires learners to use language for real-life communication and promotes learner-centeredness. Such an assessment mode can therefore prove to be highly meaningful and motivate learners to perform better. This in turn can increase the reliability and validity of the assessment tool and its effective use in the language classroom.
In this article, we discuss the scope and significance of using an ongoing mode of language assessment termed as Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) in Indian schools that follow the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum. Thereafter, we present an example of an integrative theme based language assessment that can be used for CCE purposes in class. This test-type can be used to advance learning, provide constructive feedback and inform the teaching-learning process. We conclude by drawing implications of using the CCE model in the classroom context and the factors that teachers need to follow to use it beneficially both for themselves as well as their learners. This discussion, I hope, will help language teachers, particularly at the secondary level, understand the significance of using the CCE model and better equip them to apply the model in a reliable and efficient manner.
The author is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Testing and Evaluation, The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.