There are four types of assessment: diagnostic, formative, benchmark, and summative. Diagnostic testing demonstrates student proficiency in specific skills and knowledge. It is not intended to demonstrate mastery. This assessment gives the teacher a clear starting point for developing and guiding instruction. The strength of this assessment is in identifying areas of proficiency and needed growth.
Formative assessment can be described as “assessment on the go,” and takes place during the lesson. The teacher uses the data from the assessment to adjust instruction on the fly. The strength of this type of assessment is that the data can be applied immediately to affect instruction. Its weakness is that the assessment is susceptible to subjectivity.
Benchmark assessments are used to show student mastery. Unit and end-of-cycle tests are examples of benchmark testing. Some benchmark tests are designed to predict student performance on state assessments.
Summative assessments are used at the end of a course or school year to determine overall learning. The strength of a summative assessment is that it gives every student an equal chance to demonstrate their learning.
The common limitation of all the assessments is that the data represent a snapshot of one day in time. None of the assessments should be used to evaluate student performance without reference to others. Each assessment plays a role in evaluating student performance.
School leaders must ensure that teachers understand each assessment type, including when to administer them, how to collect and analyze the data, and how to plan instruction accordingly to increase student performance. This assurance can be gained through professional development on assessments and participation in planning meetings or individual planning time. Guiding teachers through creating assessments or providing ready-made assessments may be necessary for a robust assessment system.
And that’s some basic information about the Instructional Leadership content category.