The Purpose of Assessment
Assessments provide the data that drives instruction.
According to Reutzel and Cooter (2011), “effective
instruction begins with assessment. As assessment
data are gathered, the teacher is able to plan
instruction that responds to learners’ specific literacy
learning needs. (p. 33).
Formative vs. Summative Assessment
Formative assessment takes place as learning occurs.
Formative assessment is ongoing assessment that is
used to inform instruction.
Summative assessment is administered after learning
Summative assessment measures student learning at
the end of a unit or semester. Summative assessments
can also be used formatively, to drive future
instruction (Gunning, 2009).
Assessments fall into the following four categories:
• Screening assessments
• Diagnostic assessments
• Progress Monitoring assessments
• Outcome Assessments
Screening instruments are used to analyze student mastery of previous
and current grade-level benchmarks (Reutzel & Cooter, 2011).
Screening assessments are used to determine if a student is having
difficulty or if further assessment is needed (American Federation of
These assessments are usually administered at the beginning of the
school year or when a student enters the school (Gunning, 2010).
Screening assessments may also take place at the middle and end of the
An example of a screening assessment may include Discovery
Education assessments, which are administered three times a year to
measure student progress towards specific reading and writing
Other examples of screening assessments may include the use of a
Running Record with miscue analysis, which will give insight into the
student’s decoding abilities, fluency and comprehension skills
These assessments are used with at-risk students to
pinpoint specific areas of deficit or student need.
Diagnostic assessments can be formal
(standardized, norm-referenced) or informal.
An example of a diagnostic assessment is the IRI (Informal
Reading Inventory). This assessment provides information
about the students’ reading level, language
development, word-analysis and comprehension skills
The QRI-5 is another example of a diagnostic assessment
that can be used to determine reading level, decoding
ability, and comprehension.
Progress Monitoring Assessments
Progress monitoring assessments are used to determine if a
specific intervention is working or if progress is occurring.
These assessments are administered periodically, usually
every two weeks (American Federation of Teachers, 2004).
Curriculum Based Measures (CBMs) are often used for
progress monitoring. These assessments assess overall
proficiency of a single skill, and are administered multiple
times. Examples of CBMs include assessments of letternaming or sound fluency (DIBELS), as well as oral reading
fluency (Gunning, 2009).
Outcome assessments are used to indicate whether the goals of a
program have been met (Gunning, 2009).
These assessments present a view of how a student compares to
other students in the state, district, school, grade level or in a
specific subgroup (Reutzel & Cooter, 2011).
These are standardized, norm-referenced assessments.
Outcome assessments are usually administered at the end of the
year or after the completion of a program.
The SAT-10 and FCAT assessments are examples of normreferenced outcome assessments that compare student
performance across the same grade.
Criterion-referenced assessments like the Discovery Education
assessments are used to determine how students perform against
specific reading and writing benchmarks and standards.
American Federation of Teachers. (2004). Selecting assessments
for your school. American educator, Fall 2004. Retrieved
Cooter, R. and Reutzel, D. (2011). Strategies for reading
assessment and instruction: Helping every child
succeed (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Gunning, T.G. (2010). Assessing and correcting reading and writing
difficulties (4th ed.).Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.