What is an assessment?
• Assessments, by definition, are methods of collecting data that can analyzed
to determine both strengths and weaknesses of student comprehension,
track progression, and determine learning gains (Vogt & Shearer, 2011).
• Assessments are categorized into two primary types with subcategories to
distinguish best uses of the data collected. The two types of assessments
are formative and summative.
• There are four classifications of assessments which include screening,
diagnostic, progress monitoring, and outcome measuring.
• Formative assessments are a tool which allow the educator to see a snapshot of a
student’s mastery of a concept, skill, or ability (Vogt & Shearer, 2011).
• Formative assessments are designed to allow a teacher to adjust instruction to the
student(s) as needed during a lesson, unit, or course to meet a student’s academic
• They can be both formal and informal as well as standardized. The goal is to validate
instruction. Qualitative data is collected to include writing samples, finished products of
a process, and so forth to ensure comparisons can be validly made about student
• Examples of the assessments would include personal observations, reviews, quizzes,
performance tasks, student reflections on labs (Gunning, 2010).
• Summative assessments are tools which are given at the end of instruction
to determine level of mastery on the concepts presented over a given time
period (Vogt & Shearer, 2011). For instance, an end of course exam, a unit
test, or a yearly assessment based on national or state standards.
• Summative assessments are administered to either an individual student or
a group of students.
• They mostly are quantitative since statistical data is produced at the end of
• Examples of summative assessments would include FCAT, NAPE, SAT/ACT,
and end of course exams (Classroom assessment, 2012).
An interesting note:
• Assessments can be both formative and summative. Simply put, “use
of the assessment determines classification” (Vogt & Shearer, 2011,
• An example of a test being both formative and summative is a scale
test given to a flutist in the band. The director may ask the student to
play a C# scale to check on fingerings and note clarity during the
week the scale is assigned for learning. Then the student performs
the same scale as a performance test at the end of the week for their
• Formative assessments administered to students that focus on
specific skill or task that measures ability or mastery of a topic which
will help teachers target who needs additional support (Vogt &
Shearer, 2011). “They are designed to measure critical skills that are
high predictors of future student performance” (p.105).
• Common screening tools used by reading and language arts teachers
are word lists, DIBLES, San Diego Quick, QRI (Gunning, 2010).
• Summative assessments given to students once screening instruments have
determined a low performance or deficit for student learning or mastery of materials
(Vogt & Shearer, 2011).
• Diagnostic tests can be either norm-referenced or informal and require more time by
the education staff to discover where the learning break has occurred.
• Once the student’s problem has been diagnosed, then appropriate learning and
comprehension strategies can be incorporated under a plan built directly for the
• Examples of diagnostic assessments would include Stanford Diagnostic Tests and
Woodcock Reading (Gunning, 2010).
• Formative assessments are administered throughout a given time
(semester, unit, school year, etc.). The collected data on student
ability gives the educator a snapshot of the student’s ability at that
particular time allowing for individualized instruction or interventions to
be administered to ensure mastery of the course content (Vogt &
• Assessments generally include teacher observations, running records,
or FAIR results (Classroom assessment, 2012; Gunning, 2010; Vogt &
• Summative assessments generally given at the end of a school year
to determine student learning gains for a particular year and are
compared to other students of the same grade level for that particular
year (Vogt & Shearer, 2011).
• “Group-administered, norm-referenced, standardized assessments
that are often associated with high stakes” (p.105)
• Examples would be NAPE, FCAT (Classroom assessment, 2012).
• No matter the type of assessment, educators must follow an
established method of evaluation for students that delivers reliable
and valid insight into students’ comprehension and mastery of content
materials. Being able to identify and utilize correctly the assessments
offers both teacher and students a necessary component to
education- what is working or not working towards student learning
• Classroom assessment. (2012). Retrieved from
• Gunning, T. (2010). Assessing and correcting reading and writing
difficulties. (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
• Vogt, M., & Shearer, B. (2011). Reading specialists and literacy
coaches in the real world. (3rd ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.