Personal and professional assessment of knowledge, performance, attitudes, and character encourages development toward fulfilling divine potential and promotes professional growth.
Assessment is the process of evaluating or appraising based upon a standard. Assessment includes measuring knowledge (understanding), performance (actions), attitudes (feelings), or character (attributes) by comparing what is expected with actual achievement. In the gospel sense, assessment is part of the process of developing divine potential. All individuals should regularly assess their own progress in becoming more like the Savior.
Assessment is also essential for developing professionalism in CES assignments. Assessment for CES leaders and teachers centers upon basic duties and responsibilities related to living the gospel, teaching effectively, and administering appropriately.
Leaders and teachers should continually assess their own gospel living. Priesthood leaders hold the keys to judge in matters of gospel living. They provide a worthiness clearance for full-time teachers and administrators each year. CES leaders assess gospel living for personnel only as it relates directly to professional assignments.
CES leaders assist individuals primarily in assessing their effectiveness of teaching and appropriateness of administering. Assessment also helps leaders make decisions in such areas as hiring, placement, and program development. Ultimately, assessment in CES helps identify how well the objective of religious education is being met.
Assessment should focus upon the basic duties and responsibilities of CES leaders and teachers as taught in the standard works, the words of the prophets, and in CES materials. Basic duties and responsibilities for teaching effectively are addressed in Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook for CES Teachers and Leaders (2001). Similar duties and responsibilities for administering appropriately are addressed in this handbook. The principles and skills emphasized in these handbooks are the basis of assessment in teaching and administering (see appendix, pp. 39–40).
Assessment of leaders and teachers can be conducted through such means as spiritual discernment, classroom observations, formal assessment instruments, informal exchanges, and interviews. Functioning together, these provide individuals and their leaders with an awareness of strengths and areas needing improvement.
Formal assessment instruments are provided for CES leaders and teachers to measure progress in fulfilling basic duties and responsibilities. Those using formal assessment instruments should be cautious that such instruments are administered fairly. They should also be sensitive to the inherent limitations of the instruments when interpreting results from such measures.
Some areas of assessment are easier to measure than others, such as a student’s enrollment, attendance, and course completion; a teacher’s accuracy and timeliness of reports; or a leader’s timely acquisition of operating materials and supplies. Many other important duties and responsibilities are more difficult to measure, such as a student’s willingness to live what is taught, a teacher’s effectiveness in teaching by the Spirit, or a leader’s empathy for those he or she serves. Therefore, in addition to formal measures, assessment in CES is often conducted through informal exchanges. These exchanges may be with priesthood leaders, CES colleagues and supervisors, students, or with an individual’s parents, spouse, and family members.
When informal exchanges take place between an individual and his or her leader, the leader should listen with care and sensitivity. Leaders should commend individuals for their strengths and offer encouragement in areas needing improvement, thus edifying those he or she leads. When necessary, leaders should kindly but directly advise individuals in what may be hindering their effectiveness (see D&C 121:43; Proverbs 6:23). It is helpful when a written record is provided to individuals expressing commendation and identifying areas in which they might improve. When receiving reports on assignments, leaders should also seek feedback concerning areas where they might improve their leadership. In addition to scheduled instances for reporting on assignments, leaders should welcome opportunities for those they lead to seek counsel from them.
Pondering and seeking spiritual discernment are most important in assessing our own teaching and administering. The Lord has said, “If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.” After the Lord shows individuals their areas of weakness, faith and humility allow the Lord to “make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
When assessing an individual’s knowledge, performance, attitude, or character, we should follow principles that lead to edification. Those conducting assessments should follow such principles as building relationships of love and trust (see Mosiah 23:14–15), remembering the worth of souls (see D&C 18:10–16), speaking the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15–16), seeking to strengthen others (see D&C 108:7; Luke 22:32), and serving compassionately (see Jude 1:22). When conducting assessments we should guard against personal preference or bias, faultfinding, unnecessary comparison with others, and any influence of pride.
As individuals strive to promote professional growth and develop their divine potential, assessment helps to clarify standards, identify areas of strengths and needed improvement, and provide edifying feedback (see Alma 34:33; D&C 82:18).
Communication and follow-up are enhanced when both formal and informal assessments are documented. Accurate documentation may be provided through results of formal instruments, completed reports, notes made during observations, or other correspondence. Where possible, information gathered through assessment should be shared with the individual being assessed. Accurate documentation of employee performance is often required by law to protect the employee and the employer.
For assessment to be most beneficial, related training opportunities should be sought or provided to help individuals in their development. After individuals participate in training, assessment based upon the objectives should again be conducted to evaluate the impact of the training. Individuals and their leaders should use follow-up assessment to answer questions such as the following:
What impact has training had on the individual’s knowledge, performance, attitude, or character?
In what ways has training influenced the way the individual lives, teaches, or administers?
How well are individuals prepared to fulfill the duty or responsibility addressed in the training?