As its name implies, an exit assessment takes place at the end of the learners’ LBS program. Exit assessments identify the skills, knowledge and behaviours that learners have gained as a result of their LBS learning.
Exit assessments are used to assess if:
- learners have met their LBS learning goal
- learners are ready to leave the program
- learners are ready for their ‘next step’
- cumulative learner assessment results show that LBS programs are efficient and effective
All these exit assessment results matter to a number of stakeholders:
- the learners
- the service provider
- Literacy Services Planning and Coordination
- transitioning partners
- the general public
As the stakes matter to so many, exit assessments should not be ignored or forgotten. They need our attention and we need to consider ways to ensure exit assessment results are obtained. Below are some suggested ways to conduct exit assessments. These may be selected individually or used in combination(s) to provide even richer assessment results, which are of value to all stakeholders.
We discussed Integrated Tasks earlier in the Ongoing Assessment section. Integrated Tasks, relevant to the learner’s goal path, can also be a means of determining if the learner is able to complete tasks similar to those they will come across as they move to the next step of their goal. Integrated tasks are particularly valuable to learners as they can see all the parts of their learning put into practice in their life and at their goal. Using integrated tasks that use authentic documents, etc., moves the emphasis from how many skills learners acquired to how well they can use the skills to face real-world challenges.
Formal Assessment Tools
Because of the stakes, LBS programs often use more formal assessment tools such as tests and those offered as examples in the Formal Assessment section of this module, instead of, or as well as, informal assessment tools. This is especially true when the results are required for a transition partner, such as a high school credit program, a college mature student assessment or an employer.
Try ‘debriefing’ learners with a discussion about their LBS learning. Debriefing is particularly valuable to the learners and to the LBS agency. However, this is not an evaluation of your program. It is a chance for the learners to:
- Reflect on each of the aspects of literacy learning:
- their acquisition of skills and strategies
- their ability to complete tasks
- how they put learning into practice, using those tasks, now, in their everyday life
- any change that their learning has brought about in the learners’ lives or those around them
- Foresee how the skills and strategies may be transferable to other tasks and situations.
- Consider how they are at “Managing Learning” (OALCF Competency E) as this will also be needed in their future.
- Review the requirements of their goal path’s next step and consider how their LBS learning relates to it.
When conducting the debriefing, ask questions that encourage the learners to express what they think and how they feel. Pay attention for possibilities to ask follow-up questions or to challenge them to broaden their thinking. Also, find opportunities to link their learning to other aspects of their life.
Debriefing is used by Connections Adult Learning at the end of their special interest computer workshops, such as, Facebook, Printable Gifts, Digital Scrapbooking, Android devices or iPad/iPhone. Although the learning took place on one platform or topic they discuss the actual skills that the learners acquired, for example, reading digital screens; understanding icons; key word searches and internet browsing; working with text, photos and graphics; sharing information digitally; following video and print tutorials; etc. They talk about how the skills and strategies can be transferred to learning other digital and non-digital tasks.
Culminating tasks are one formalized element of the OALCF exit assessment strategy. There are at least three culminating tasks available for each of the goal paths.
Culminating tasks are similar to Integrated Tasks. They are complex, involving multiple competencies and task groups. By successfully completing the appropriate Culminating Task, learners demonstrate their ability to perform the types of tasks they will encounter once they transition beyond LBS.
Culminating tasks are not stand alone assessments. Successful completion of culminating tasks does not ‘prove’ that learners have developed all the skills and/or knowledge necessary for their goal. Instead, the combination of successfully completing all learning activities, the appropriate selected milestones and a Culminating Task should provide the stakeholders (the learner, the practitioner and MTCU) with a reasonable assurance that the learner is ready to smoothly transition on to their goal.
Like the OALCF milestones, culminating tasks should be kept secure and confidential to maintain their integrity.
Due to the many challenges in learners’ lives, a number of learners leave without prior notice before they have reached their goals. When this is the case, it may be impossible to complete an exit assessment that is valuable to all the stakeholders.
Unless you have no current contact information available, you may still get some exit assessment results. Through telephone debriefings, email questionnaires, etc., you will be able to provide some assessment results to some of the stakeholders. For more on following up with learners who leave the LBS program, see the Literacy Basics Exit and Follow-Up module.
In 2015, Western Region MTCU office identified programs that they considered champions in Service Coordination and Suitability along with two areas of assessment: Completion of Goal Path and Learner Progress. The Western Region support organizations collaborated to interview these champions in a series of 4 interviews. Recordings, transcripts and tip sheets are available as Western Region Best Practice Interviews with Programs through the Learning Networks of Ontario website https://learningnetworks.ca. The tip sheets for both Learner Progress and Completion of Goal Path are chock full of useful ideas, suggestions for EOIS CaMS input and presentation methods for ongoing assessments, milestones, culminating tasks and exiting learners.
- What tools do you presently use for exit assessments?
- How do these tools relate to individual learner’s goal paths, and how do they determine if the learner is ready to transition to the next step?