It's Elementary!

         an online forum for information from the Director of Elementary Education, Kelly K. Cartwright, Ed.D.

December 16, 2010

Fair Assessment

Filed under: K-12 — Kelly Cartwright @ 6:47 pm

As previously mentioned in my December 8 post, Fair Assessments is one of the six elements that impact student achievement. Four types of assessments are defined in the SAS portal:

Summative Assessment: seeks to make an overall judgment of progress made at the end of a defined period of instruction. They may occur at the end of a school level, grade, or course, and are administered at certain grades for purposes of state or local accountability. These are considered high-stakes assessments and the results are often used in conjunction with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). They are designed to produce clear data on the student’s accomplishments at key points in his or her academic career.

Formative Assessment: used by teachers during instruction to provide feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of intended instructional outcomes. In Pennsylvania, formative assessment is defined as classroom-based assessments that allow teachers to monitor and adjust their instructional practices in order to meet the individual needs of their students.

Diagnostic Assessment: ascertains, prior to instruction, each student’s strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills. Establishing these permits the instructor to remediate students and adjust the curriculum to meet their unique needs.

Benchmark Assessment: measures achievement of important grade level content periodically during the year in order to provide feedback about how students are progressing toward demonstrating proficiency.

Some assessments can be categorized as two or more types of assessments contingent upon how they are used. At the elementary level, we use all four types of assessments:

Summative: unit tests, chapter tests, project, PSSA, WIDA-Acess, District Writing                                                                     Formative: homework, classroom guided and independent practice, project, intervention assessments, District Writing                                                                                                                                                                                                               Diagnostic: DIBELS, STAR Math                                                                                                                                                                         Benchmark: DIBELS, STAR Math, 4Sight

In this day and age, we are inundated with data.  Data comes not only from assessments, but also from teacher interactions with and observations of students: classroom academic performance, classroom participation, behavior patterns, grades history, homework completion rate, attendance rate, discipline infractions, social/emotional skills, extracurricular involvement, etc. Every teacher has a variety of data at his/her fingertips. The key is to know what the data means and how to use data to inform, adjust, and tailor our instruction and to make decisions about students. Best practice means that we use our data to serve each student by meeting his/her academic, social, emotional, and physical needs. We don’t do this alone. Meeting students’ needs requires the engagement of all adults in the building who have a vested interest in the student: teachers, counselor, nurse, specialists (reading, math, psychologist, speech, gifted, special education, technology), parents, and principal.

Excellence in education is when we do everything that we can do to make sure they become everything that they can. Carol Ann Tomlinson


  1. I really enjoyed this post. The definitions really helped to clarify things and help readers to understand the big picture. Most importantly, to me, it showed how many people are involved making best practices a reality for each of our students. I would also suggest that you include technology as part of your “specialists” section. 🙂

      Chris — January 12, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

  2. Thanks for your feedback, Chris!

      Kelly Cartwright — January 19, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

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