Three Types of Assessment
This occurs in the short term, as learners are in the process of making meaning of new content and of integrating it into what they already know. Feedback to the learner is immediate (or nearly so), to enable the learner to change his/her behavior and understandings right away. Formative Assessment also enables the teacher to "turn on a dime" and rethink instructional strategies, activities, and content based on student understanding and performance. His/her role here is comparable to that of a coach. Formative Assessment can be as informal as observing the learner's work or as formal as a written test. Formative Assessment is the most powerful type of assessment for improving student understanding and performance.
Examples: a very interactive class discussion; a warm-up, closure, or exit slip; a on-the-spot performance; a quiz.
This takes place occasionally throughout a larger time period. Feedback to the learner is still quick, but may not be immediate. Interim Assessments tend to be more formal, using tools such as projects, written assignments, and tests. The learner should be given the opportunity to re-demonstrate his/her understanding once the feedback has been digested and acted upon. Interim Assessments can help teachers identify gaps in student understanding and instruction, and ideally teachers address these before moving on or by weaving remedies into upcoming instruction and activities.
Examples: Chapter test; extended essay; a project scored with a rubric.
This takes place at the end of a large chunk of learning, with the results being primarily for the teacher's or school's use. Results may take time to be returned to the student/parent, feedback to the student is usually very limited, and the student usually has no opportunity to be reassessed. Thus, Summative Assessment tends to have the least impact on improving an individual student's understanding or performance. Students/parents can use the results of Summative Assessments to see where the student's performance lies compared to either a standard (MEAP/MME) or to a group of students (usually a grade-level group, such as all 6th graders nationally, such as Iowa Tests or ACT). Teachers/schools can use these assessments to identify strengths and weaknesses of curriculum and instruction, with improvements affecting the next year's/term's students.
Examples: Standardized testing (MEAP, MME, ACT, WorkKeys, Terra Nova, etc.); Final exams; Major cumulative projects, research projects, and performances.