Types of Assessment: An Overview - Guided Readers
Types of Assessments

Types of Assessment: An Overview

Hi teacher peeps! Let’s talk about the various types of assessment that are available for you to use in the classroom. Fascinating subject, don’t you think?

What? You don’t find the topic fascinating?? That’s ok, my teacher friend–neither do I, most of the time. I know that few of us in the teaching profession chose this career because we dreamed of administering assessments. Most of us chose it because we care about children and want to help them learn.

With that said, however, we also know that to provide effective reading instruction and promote learning, we must assess the reading level of every child in our class. And to scaffold and advance that learning, we must continually monitor each student’s progress. Assessments involve a commitment of time, energy and organization. But it’s worth it since we know that if we utilize the various types of assessment, administer them correctly and evaluate the results carefully, they’ll provide a wealth of information.

Our kiddos will take plenty of tests throughout their academic careers, and we don’t want to over-test; however, it’s our job to gather and evaluate the valuable information that assessments provide. When it comes to Guided Reading, how can we use assessment tools to accurately determine a student’s reading level when they enter our class? And how can we use them to ensure effective follow-up through subsequent progress monitoring? Let’s take a look. Oh, and by the way, there may or may not be a test at the end of this post. (LOL–kidding!)

A Quick Overview of 2 Types of Assessment:
Formative and Summative

Formative Assessments: Assessments for Learning
(“What are They Learning?”)

Formative/Informal assessments evaluate student learning–They help teachers form an instructional plan to meet the student’s learning needs. Most types of formative assessments are usually brief and informal. The key to getting the most benefit from these type of assessments is to use the information they uncover to inform your instruction. A running record is an essential formative assessment tool that provides a picture of a student’s oral reading accuracy and fluency. It’s also the main source you will use when assigning students to leveled reading groups. (I did a series of posts on running records. Click here to check out “5 Great Tips for Analyzing MSV Cues in Running Records.”)

Other examples of formative assessments include homework assignments, as well as informal assessments of concepts of print, phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, sight word assessments and an informal (or qualitative) reading inventory.

Use an informal reading inventory assess a student’s reading accuracy and fluency rates, as well as to evaluate reading comprehension. The reading inventory should be completed three times in first and second grades (at the beginning, middle and end of the school year.) Use a grade level passage for this assessment; it measures grade level reading, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary, as well as accuracy in oral reading.

Summative/Formal Assessments: Assessments of Learning
(“What have they Learned?”)

Summative assessments, on the other hand, are assessments of learning that has already occurred. They support student learning by allowing you to evaluate the knowledge they’ve gained as well as to provide accountability in both the learning and teaching process. Examples of summative assessments include: graded unit tests, Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) and other standardized tests, portfolios (such as Guided Reading notebooks), and final grades. Summative assessments are typically administered at the end of a unit or semester.

Benchmark assessments can establish important baseline data and serve as a measurement of progress toward set goals. Administer interim assessments periodically throughout the school year to establish a baselines and then measure student achievement. These assessments provide valuable information to teachers, parents, principals, administrators and students themselves.

Do so many types of assessment lead to too many tests?

“Testing…evaluating….assessing, oh my!” Is all the testing and evaluation is worth it in the long run? You bet! You and your students will benefit from the availability of multiple measures of student progress and understanding. Consider data from various types of formative and summative assessment when you plan your instruction as well as when you assign students to leveled Guided Reading groups. Rather than just “teaching to the test,” a good educator uses assessment data to guide and differentiate instruction.

Screening, Diagnostic, and Progress Monitoring Assessments

At the start of every school year, we teachers get to administer some pretty important assessments. Notice the wording I used there? We get to administer these assessments. They’re not fun or flashy; but they sure pack a punch when it comes to knowing our students and understanding their strengths, abilities and needs! Effective assessment can make for more effective teaching if it helps inform instruction by identifying student needs.

Screening Assessment

Conduct Screening Assessments early in the year, or at any time a new student enters your class. These types of assessment help identify students at risk for reading difficulties, whether due to learning challenges or developmental delays. The sooner you conduct this informative assessment, the sooner you’ll provide the student with the additional help and intervention they need. You should complete a screening assessment for each of the students in your classroom. The screening assessment data will give you both an early baseline as well as a predictor to help you identify a need for additional diagnosis and testing. This type of screening can help you evaluate phonological awareness, letter knowledge, word identification, and reading fluency. DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills), DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) and Curriculum Based Measures are examples of various types of screening assessments.

Diagnostic Assessment

Diagnostic Assessments should be conducted on students who are identified (through screening assessments) as struggling or at risk in specific areas of reading. Unlike a screening assessment, this type of targeted assessment tool is not appropriate for every student in your class; rather, you’ll use it to evaluate specific students in response to issues identified by initial screening assessments. You could also use diagnostic assessments at other point of the year when you’re concerned about a particular student’s progress. To determine how you can most effectively intervene and address the needs of struggling students, use a diagnostic assessment tool. Diagnostic assessment covers areas such as phonological awareness, decoding, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Examples of this type of assessment include curriculum-based measurement, DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment), DAR (Diagnostic Assessment of Reading), DIEBELS and running records.

Progress Monitoring Assessment

Progress Monitoring Assessments let you measure your students’ progress and performance throughout the year or during a specific intervention period. This data helps you estimate and compare rates of improvement, identify students who are not progressing at an appropriate rate, and compare and evaluate various forms of instruction. Assess students at regular intervals, and use results to develop short- and long-term goals. Examples of these types of assessment include formal curriculum-based measurements (CBM), such as DIBELS. Use progress monitoring assessments to help you make instructional decisions and communicate student progress. Progress monitoring looks at the many of the same reading abilities and behaviors that are evaluated in diagnostic assessment: phonological awareness, decoding, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Progress monitoring utilizes tools such as an Oral Reading Fluency assessment, curriculum-based measures, running records and review of student work samples.

How the Various Types of Assessments Can Benefit You and Your Students

Assessments should help teachers teach as well as help students learn. Because assessments link student performance to pre-determined learning objectives, they provide a picture of how we are teaching as well as a window into how our students are progressing. When we have an accurate view of both those areas, we can help our students.

Depending upon the type of assessment, it can signal the need for early intervention, inform instruction; guide in planning for differentiated instruction, provide accountability to teachers, administration, school districts and parents; and identify needs for corrective instruction.

An assessment can…

  • Spotlight the need for early intervention
  • Guide in providing differentiated instruction
  • Provide accountability and evidence of learning
  • Inform individual and whole-class instruction
  • Identify instances where students need corrective instruction

We’ve all experienced the anxiety that can accompany test taking; but when we recognize the need and identify the benefits of purposeful assessment, we can encourage our students to relax and view it as a positive tool. While we’re at it, let’s relax a little ourselves! We’ve got this! Let’s just use the assessment tools at our disposal and reap the benefits!

Thanks for sticking with me on this whirlwind tour of assessments! No, there won’t be a test, but there is a special treat! Click here to get my Prefix Tab-Its freebie to share with your students. My kiddos loved brainstorming words with prefixes and then figuring out the meaning. I think yours will too. Enjoy!

The Fastest Route to Guided Reading Success…

Guided Readers is a comprehensive online Guided Reading program that provides hundreds of leveled Guided Reading texts, rigorous lesson plans, and word work instruction, based on best practices in literacy instruction. The Digital Interactive Reader will also provide your students with oral comprehension, decoding, and fluency practice.

As you assess students’ reading levels, Guided Readers will allow you to give students access to books on their level or on a range of levels you want them to have access to. With Guided Readers, students can read the text independently, and listen to the text while words are highlighted. They can also record themselves reading, listen back to the recording, and take quizzes based on the stories they read. On the Teacher’s Portal, teachers can view student quiz scores and listen to recordings of students reading.

There are hundreds of leveled readers already on the site, with 20-30 books being added each week! Books ranging from levels A-Q are currently on the site; however, levels R-Z will be added in the upcoming months. All Guided Readers leveled books are professionally leveled through our partnership with Fountas & Pinnell and Lexile.com. Best of all, there are 3 affordable program plans for Guided Readers,

Get ready to nail your assessments and rock your literacy instruction? Get Guided Readers!

Thanks for stopping by. Keep teaching your heart out!



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