Types of Assessment

Types of Assessment (and how to use them)

In education, various assessments are used to evaluate and support student learning. These assessments serve different purposes and are essential in understanding students' progress, strengths, and areas needing improvement. To address these downsides of traditional assessments, such as lack of feedback, educators employ improved student assessments, including diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments.

Using assessments as feedback for teachers is powerful. This feedback is most effective when the assessments are quick, helpful, and match what teachers are teaching. As a parent, whether you homeschool or not, you should understand what the different types of assessment show. 

Here are some of the main assessment types and their purposes to analyze, support further learning.

Formative Assessment

Purpose: Used to monitor student learning and provide ongoing feedback that educators can use to guide future support and lesson content.

Examples: Observations, quizzes, discussions, and small assignments.

Using apps: Formative assessment relies on you knowing what your kids don't know. Knowing how many questions your child got wrong doesn't tell you this unless they are all on the same topic.

You must know which questions or topics your child needs extra help and support to understand. Look for an app which shows you this information. A useful extra point of information is how long it takes to answer each question, which can also show uncertainty even where kids get the answer right.

Summative Assessment

Purpose: Evaluates student learning at the end of a unit of learning by comparing it against a standard or benchmark.

Examples: Final exams, projects, papers, and standardised tests.

Using apps: Summative assessment lets you know whether your child has broadly reached their educational goals in a topic. If you are following something like the Common Core State Standards, these will form the basis of your goals.

It provides helpful data for analysing the success of your support, including apps. 

Educational apps provide a quick, self-marking way of carrying out summative assessments. As kids are used to them, and they do not provoke the same stresses as formal tests, apps can better represent their accomplishments.

However, remember, not everything can be effectively tested in an app. For example, apps are not typically good at testing geometric constructions (drawing accurate shapes and angles). Multiple-choice questions do not provide the same challenge or skill test as physically drawing the geometry.

Diagnostic Assessment

Purpose: Administered before they start learning, diagnostic assessment determines students' strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills. It helps educators plan their instruction.

Examples: Pre-tests, surveys, and diagnostic quizzes.

Using apps: Diagnostic assessment is essential for anyone taking on a child's education. You can't choose a logical starting point or reasonable goal if you don't know what kids know. 

Remember to test the right skills. Many kids have been classed as poor at math when only their literacy skills are lacking, perhaps through dyslexia. Many adaptive learning apps carry out diagnostic assessments when kids first use them.

You should ensure you know whether your apps do this because any help you give at this stage can skew the results and provide an unsatisfactory learning experience. This diagnostic period is also why there is little value in constantly changing apps to take advantage of free trials.

Performance-Based Assessment

Purpose: Students demonstrate their knowledge and skills by performing a task rather than on a traditional test.

Examples: Presentations, portfolios, and group projects.

These assessments are integral to the educational process, providing critical information for educators and students. They help track progress, identify needs, inform instruction, and prepare students for future challenges.

Technology is a key part of learning and will be just as important in college and work. Choosing good productivity and creative apps ensures kids aren't learning just to pass the tests. Homeschooling parents can team up with others doing the same to create remote group work. Ensure you set the apps up so your kids are safe as they communicate and set them a task to complete with their remote friends.

This can be a great way of keeping distant family members such as cousins in contact.

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