Effective assessments are both reliable and valid. A reliable test means that when it is administered many times to learners who receive the same instruction, similar results are achieved. A valid test refers to a test that is measuring the desired learning impact. For example, if you are trying to teach a skill, a written test may not measure whether or not the learner can perform the task.

Assessments that are both reliable and valid are important in an online environment where feedback from students is limited. In a classroom, you may receive visual cues and you may engage in casual conversation before or after class when students may find it easier to ask questions. These signs indicate if they understand the material or need more guidance. Because these opportunities are more limited online, having reliable and valid assessments is especially important.