Back to basics: Why assess?

Assessment results provide insights about what students know and can do. Parents and educators need meaningful, objective information about whether students are ready for college and beyond. And different types of assessments address different types of questions.

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The difference between formative and summative/standardized assessments

Formative Assessments

Teachers give formative assessments throughout the year to measure how students are learning. Some have features of standardization, but most are are made by teachers.

  • What they look like varies. They can be similar to standardized assessments, or they can be based more on teacher observations of student performance and activities.
  • Teachers use quizzes, tests, writing assignments, and even their own observations to understand how their students are performing.

Combining assessment types with technology

We’ve heard that parents and educators are dissatisfied with the current assessment process. As you’ll discover, technology allows us to address these concerns by applying standardization and fairness to classroom activities and reducing testing time.

In the digital world, new types of activities such as games can be used as assessments. However, teachers can also deliver them as part of the learning process, so they don’t interrupt student learning.

Educators need many indicators of student learning

A test score is just one piece of the whole picture. Multiple indicators of student learning lead to better academic decisions. For K–12 students, this could include grades as well as factors like class participation.

By going back to basics and looking at the different types of assessment and the evidence they provide, the way educators gather insights can change.

Pearson is actively working on research and innovative solutions that balance challenges in the classroom with ways to gather insights about student learning.

Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment, written by Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor Sir Michael Barber and Assessment Expert Dr. Peter Hill, is a policy paper that lays out the future path for assessments at a high level.