A word about assessment…
In schools, the word “assessment” refers to ways teachers measure and document student learning and progress. Many people think about traditional standardized tests or final exams when they think about assessment, but teachers use many different tools to measure and report learning. Generally, we talk about two types of assessment – “Formative Assessment” and “Summative Assessment”.
“Formative Assessment” refers to many different ways teachers use to measure how a student is growing during a lesson or unit. Teachers use this information to help adjust their teaching to fill in gaps or add harder skills. Ideally, these results are also shared with students to help them understand how to improve. Some examples of formative assessment can include a teacher hearing or seeing student progress in class, online quizzes, some types of standardized testing, and many other both formal and informal measures. What makes an assessment “Formative” is how it is used. That is, it measures progress and informs teaching during the learning period.
“Summative Assessment” refers to many different ways teachers use to measure how a student performed at the end of a lesson or unit. This information is more often used to assign students grades and issue status reports like report cards. A summative assessment can be the traditional final exam or standardized testing. Summative assessment can also be things like measures of projects, performances, or reports. What makes an assessment “Summative” is how it is used. In this case, an assessment is summative when it is used to measure student progress at the end of a learning period.
Both forms of assessment are used for many reasons. The most important way we use assessment is to adjust teaching and student supports for each individual student to help them progress and succeed. Assessments are also used to help document and communicate student progress to other teachers and to the students’ families. Another important way these assessments are used is to measure and report how well teachers, administrators, schools, and the district are doing on our job of educating students. When we combine information on assessment from many students, we can use that information to find things that are working well and to fix things that are not.
In Portland Public Schools we use many different types of both formative and summative assessment. Each teacher and school will have both formal and informal ways they assess students. There are a number of measures that we use district-wide, and a summary of these is listed below: