For Further Study:

Assessment Special Collection


Module 2 - Orientation and Assessment


Student assessment is included as part of an orientation to adult literacy programs. Unlike many of the other orientation activities, however, assessment is an ongoing process, and takes many different forms. In particular, assessment forms a key element of the program’s design of instruction (what should students be studying?), measurement of student success (how are students doing?), and accountability system (how is the program doing overall?).

As a part of the orientation process, programs use standardized testing to diagnose a student’s academic needs. Programs also use alternative assessments, materials from textbooks, and teacher-made assessments to determine content and skills in need of study. All of these types of tools have a place in supporting an adult learner’s success in reaching their goals. Assessment is not a one-time occurrence. Instructors should plan regular formal and informal assessments of students’ progress in acquiring skills and reaching their goals.

Some adult learners have anxiety about demonstrating their skills to strangers. They may not have had success with tests in the past. How assessment is addressed in orientation and on an ongoing basis thereafter plays an important role in students’ comfort level with instruction and in understanding their progress towards their goals.

Think back to your initial drivers’ license exam*. It consisted of two parts – a written and a “performance-based” portion.

* If you have not taken these exams, find a friend or co-worker who is willing to discuss their exams and use the questions above to guide your discussion.


On your worksheet, make some notes about this initial assessment experience.

Then state why you think this information might have been valuable to the testing examiner and/or the testing station’s administrators.

Some adult learners entering Adult Literacy classes may be speakers whose native language is not English.  For assistance in adjusting Assessment to support these non-native English speakers, please consult the following resources:

If, however, you or they find that their English skills aren't strong enough for them to benefit from your class, it is better to refer them to Adult English Language classes.

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