Selecting and Using Assessment Tools

Choosing the Right Tool

Whether you're working with a learner focused on literacy, English language learning, computer skills or academic upgrading, you'll find there is a long list of formal assessment tools for each program area. Selecting the right tool for your learner can feel intimidating, but it doesn't need to be a stressful process. Remember to keep things simple. If you are newer to your position, and not sure where to start, find out which tools your CALP already uses. Begin by familiarizing yourself with those tools before worrying about trying to decipher which additional tools might be helpful.
When the time comes to look for a new assessment tool, there are many different ways you can compare various tools against each other. For example:

  • some tools are free while others have a cost involved
  • some assessments can be administered in a very short time while others are much longer and more involved
  • some tools are only available online while others may have to be ordered ahead of time to get hard copies mailed to you
  • some are intended for foundational learners while others are for post-secondary placement

One easy way to determine whether it's even worth considering a particular assessment tool is to ask yourself these 2 questions:

  • Does this tool include instructions on how to administer the assessment and how to share the results with the learner?

  • Does the assessment give specific skills for me (or the program facilitator) to work on with the learner?

Using Assessment Tools

Regardless of what assessment tool you decide to use, there are some basic principles to follow for a successful, low-stress assessment. Follow these important guidelines when administering an assessment, and be sure to check out the Tips & Tricks section below.

  • Make sure you understand an assessment tool before administering it to a learner. It's worth taking the time to read it thoroughly, take the assessment yourself, or talk to other CALP staff who have used the assessment before.
  • Prepare the learner for the assessment. Many assessment tools include instructions for how to prepare the learner for taking the assessment, what they'll need to have with them to conduct the assessment, etc.

Assessment Stock Photo

Tips & Tricks

  • You don't have to use (or even be familiar with) all the assessment tools out there. There are far more tools than you'll ever use, and it's ok to have 1 or 2 "go to" tools that you know and like.
  • Connect the assessment tool to the learner's goal when introducing the tool to the learner and explaining what it's for.
  • Important messages to communicate to the learner when administering an assessment tool:
    • This is a tool (or booklet) that can help us learn more about what we can focus on for your learning. This will tell us what you already know.
    • You will see that some tasks are easier than others. No one expects you to be able to do all of these tasks. Feel free to stop if it becomes too difficult. We simply need to get an idea of what you can already do and what you need to learn to reach your goal.
    • Take your time. There is no time limit, so just let me know when you have finished.
  • "This is not a test". The words “test” or “assessment” can be intimidating for some people. Try using words like:
    • Workbook
    • Worksheet
    • Set of questions
    • Survey
    • Exercises
    • Set of tasks