Q: What does it mean to assess?
A: Assessing is simply taking a measurement of progress, knowledge, or mastery.
Q: How do formative and summative assessments differ?
A: Formative assessments are used periodically throughout the instructional/learning process to determine progress. Summative assessments are given at the end of a unit of instruction to show mastery.
Q: Why might a pre-assessment be used?
A: Pre-assessments are great tools to take a quick read on where the students are prior to learning. They can show the teacher which areas need more focus.
Q: What are some good assessment methods?
A: Pre-assessments could be given using a traditional quiz, KWL charts, quick writes, or just an informal classroom discussion.
Formative assessments can be given using a variety of methods and resources, as well. See this article to find my five favorite methods. (You will notice that a multiple-choice quiz is nowhere near that list.)
Summative assessments can be in the form of a final project to demonstrate mastery (i.e. a piece of writing, artwork, musical composition, multimedia presentation, live demonstration).
Q: What does the teacher do with the data collected?
A: Ideally, the teacher uses the data to guide his/her own teaching. Are the students ready to move on? Is there an area that needs to be retaught using a different method/resource? Are there trends rising to the top? Are there students who need some one-on-one help?
Q: What does the student do with the data collected?
A: Ideally, the student uses the data to guide his/her own learning. If assessments are valid tools, and teachers give valuable feedback (in a timely manner), then they can be utilized to shape the students’ knowledge and skills acquisition.