What Are the 8 Purposes of Education Assessments?
Assessments are used for a variety of purposes in schools and education systems:
High-stakes assessments are usually standardized tests used for accountability purposes—i.e., any attempt by federal, state, or local government agencies to ensure that learners are enrolled in efficient schools and taught by efficient educators. In general, “high stakes” means that essential decisions about learners, educators, schools, or districts are based on the scores learners achieve on a high-stakes test, and either punishments or accolades result from those scores.
Pre-assessments are administered before learners begin a lesson, unit, course, or educational program. Learners are not necessarily expected to know most, or even any, of the content assessed by pre-assessments—they are generally used to (1) establish a baseline against which educators measure learning progress throughout a program, course, or teaching period, or (2) decide general educational readiness for a course, program, grade level, or new educational program that learner may be transferring into.
Formative assessments are in-process evaluations of learner learning that are usually administered several times during a unit, course, or educational program. The purpose of formative assessment is to provide educators with in-process feedback about what learners are learning or not learning so that teaching approaches, teaching contents, and educational support can be modified. Formative assessments are not scored or graded. They may take various forms, from formal quizzes and assignments to informal questioning strategies and in-class discussions with learners.
Summative assessments are used to assess learner learning after a specific teaching period—usually at the end of a unit, course, semester, program, or school year. Summative assessments are usually scored, and graded tests, assignments, or projects are used to decide whether learners have learned what they were expected to learn during the defined teaching period.
Interim assessments are used to assess where learners are in their learning progress and decide whether they are on track to performing well on future assessments. Interim assessments are administered periodically during a course or school year and separately from the process of instructing learners (i.e., unlike formative assessments, which are integrated into the teaching process).
Placement assessments are used to “place” learners into a course, course level, or educational program. For instance, an assessment may be used to decide whether a learner is ready for Algebra I or a higher-level algebra course, such as an honors-level course. For this reason, placement assessments are given before a course or program begins, and the basic intent is to match learners with appropriate learning experiences that address their distinct learning needs.
Screening assessments are used to decide whether learners may need specialized assistance or services or whether they are ready to begin a course, grade level, or educational program. Screening assessments may take various forms in educational settings, and they may be developmental, physical, cognitive, or educational. A preschool screening test may be used to decide whether a young kid is physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually ready to begin preschool. In contrast, other screening tests may be used to assess health, potential learning disorders, and other learner attributes.
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