Types of Assessment

Assessment for learning

  • comprises two phases—initial or diagnostic assessment and formative assessment
  • assessment can be based on a variety of information sources (e.g., portfolios, works in progress, teacher observation, conversation)
  • verbal or written feedback to the student is primarily descriptive and emphasizes strengths, identifies challenges, and points to next steps
  • as teachers check on understanding they adjust their instruction to keep students on track
  • no grades or scores are given - record-keeping is primarily anecdotal and descriptive
  • occurs throughout the learning process, from the outset of the course of study to the time of summative assessment

Assessment as learning

  • begins as students become aware of the goals of instruction and the criteria for performance
  • involves goal-setting, monitoring progress, and reflecting on results
  • implies student ownership and responsibility for moving his or her thinking forward (metacognition)
  • occurs throughout the learning process

Assessment of learning

  • assessment that is accompanied by a number or letter grade (summative)
  • compares one student’s achievement with standards
  • results can be communicated to the student and parents
  • occurs at the end of the learning unit


  • judgment made on the basis of a student’s performance

Diagnostic assessment (also referred to as "pre-assessment")

  • assessment made to determine what a student does and does not know about a topic
  • assessment made to determine a student's learning style or preferences used to determine how well a student can perform a certain set of skills related to a particular subject or group of subjects
  • occurs at the beginning of a unit of study
  • used to inform instruction:makes up the initial phase of assessment for learning

Formative assessment

  • assessment made to determine a student’s knowledge and skills, including learning gaps as they progress through a unit of study
  • used to inform instruction and guide learning
  • occurs during the course of a unit of study
  • makes up the subsequent phase of assessment for learning

Summative assessment

  • assessment that is made at the end of a unit of study to determine the level of understanding the student has achieved
  • includes a mark or grade against an expected standard