Community Literacy of Ontario has been funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to develop this online training module, which looks at Ontario’s Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) programs’ assessment requirements, practices and tools. Assessment is one of the five services provided by LBS Service Delivery Agencies (along with Information and Referral, Learner Plan Development, Training, and Exit and Follow-up).
This module is for practitioners in LBS agencies. Practitioners who are new to the literacy field and Ontario’s Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework (OALCF) will find a wealth of information and resources in its content. It will also be useful for those more experienced practitioners as a review and as a source of sample tools and resources. In addition to having their own sections, resources and samples are embedded in all sections of the module.
So just what is assessment? A thesaurus check on MS Word gives us evaluation, appraisal, measurement, review, opinion and judgement as some synonyms. The October 2016 LBS Service Provider Guidelines have a detailed definition that is tailored to LBS and the OALCF:
“Assessment is any process or procedure that gathers information for making decisions about a learner’s knowledge, skills, behaviours and abilities. It forms a critical part of everyday activities in a literacy program as decisions are made on the best way to meet learners’ needs. Assessment includes a wide range of approaches from informal procedures to formal, standardized assessments or tests. LBS service providers conduct assessments at intake (upon registration and placement), during programming (as part of program delivery) and at exit (when learners complete the learner plan).”
While talking about assessment, it is important to note that learner assessment in LBS agencies is not done solely for the benefit of the assessor. Other program staff, other education and training providers, employers, our LBS funder, and the learners themselves all have an interest in our Assessment Service. Each group needs the following questions answered:
- When entering the LBS program, is there a need? (Are there skills learners need to acquire to reach their goals?)
- While in our program, do learners make progress?
- When finished our program, do learners have the skills necessary to transition to the next step of their goal?
These three concerns can be satisfied through consistent initial, ongoing and exit assessment practices.
Assessment acknowledges and guides the learners’ steps during the literacy stage of the path to their goal. Assessment informs the development of a learner plan and the actual delivery of training. Assessment confirms when learners are ready to transition to their goals beyond our programs.
In order to consider assessment as a Literacy and Basic Skills delivery service, we need to view it in the context of the Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework (OALCF). We therefore need to have a general understanding of that framework. We therefore must have a general understanding of that framework which CLO has provided in the Service Delivery OALCF module.