Student Assessments

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Student Assessments by Mind Map: Student Assessments

1. Performance Based

1.1. Performance assessments typically require students to complete a complex task, such as a writing assignment, science experiment, speech, presentation, performance, or long-term project, for example. Educators will often use collaboratively developed common assessments, scoring guides, rubrics, and other methods to evaluate whether the work produced by students shows that they have learned what they were expected to learn. Performance assessments may also be called “authentic assessments,” since they are considered by some educators to be more accurate and meaningful evaluations of learning achievement than traditional tests. For more detailed discussions, see authentic learning, demonstration of learning, and exhibition.

1.1.1. Pros: Demonstrations of learning are typically designed to encourage students to think critically, solve challenging problems, and develop important skills and work habits such as written and oral communication, public speaking, research, teamwork, planning, self-sufficiency, goal setting, or technological and online literacy—i.e., skills that will help better prepare them for college, modern careers, and adult life. Demonstrations of learning may be “interdisciplinary” in the sense that they require students to apply skills or investigate issues across many different subject areas or domains of knowledge. Demonstrations of learning may also encourage students to connect their projects to community issues or problems (also see relevance), or to integrate outside-of-school learning experiences, including activities such interviews, scientific observations, or internships. Cons: While some critics may be skeptical of the educational value or benefits of demonstrations of learning (and related strategies), most criticism of or debate about demonstrations of learning is not focused on the strategy itself, or its intrinsic or potential educational value, but rather on the quality of its execution—i.e., demonstrations of learning tend to be criticized when they are poorly designed, when reflect low academic standards, or when students are allowed to complete relatively superficial projects of low educational value. Examples: Writing, directing, and filming a public-service announcement that will be aired on public-access television. Designing and building a product, computer program, app, or robot to address a specific need, such as assisting the disabled. Interning at a nonprofit organization or a legislator’s office to learn more about strategies and policies intended to address social problems, such as poverty, hunger, or homelessness. Conducting a scientific study over several months or a year to determine the ecological or environmental impact of changes to a local habitat. Researching an industry or market, and creating a viable business plan for a proposed company that is then “pitched” to a panel of local business leaders.

2. High stakes

2.1. A high-stakes test is any test used to make important decisions about students, educators, schools, or districts, most commonly for the purpose of accountability—i.e., the attempt by federal, state, or local government agencies and school administrators to ensure that students are enrolled in effective schools and being taught by effective teachers. In general, “high stakes” means that test scores are used to determine punishments (such as sanctions, penalties, funding reductions, negative publicity), accolades (awards, public celebration, positive publicity), advancement (grade promotion or graduation for students), or compensation (salary increases or bonuses for administrators and teachers).

2.2. Pros: Holds teachers accountable for ensuring that all students learn what they are expected to learn. While no single test can measure whether students have achieved all state learning standards (standardized tests can measure only a fraction of these standards), test scores are nevertheless one method used to determine whether students are learning at a high level. They can motivate students to work harder, learn more, and take the tests more seriously, which can promote higher student achievement.

2.3. Cons: Forces educators to “teach to the test”—i.e., to focus instruction on the topics that are most likely to be tested, or to spend valuable instructional time prepping students for tests rather than teaching them knowledge and skills that may be more important. Promotes a more “narrow” academic program in schools, since administrators and teachers may neglect or reduce instruction in untested—but still important—subject areas such as art, health, music, physical education, or social studies, for example.

2.4. Examples: American ACT/SAT, the Chinese GaoKao or College Entrance Exam (CCEE), or the German Abitur Exam.

3. Authentic

3.1. Performance assessments may also be called “authentic assessments,” since they are considered by some educators to be more accurate and meaningful evaluations of learning achievement than traditional tests. In education, the term authentic learning refers to a wide variety of educational and instructional techniques focused on connecting what students are taught in school to real-world issues, problems, and applications. The basic idea is that students are more likely to be interested in what they are learning, more motivated to learn new concepts and skills, and better prepared to succeed in college, careers, and adulthood if what they are learning mirrors real-life contexts, equips them with practical and useful skills, and addresses topics that are relevant and applicable to their lives outside of school.

3.1.1. Pros: Authentic learning is also a central concept in educational reforms that call for schools to place a greater emphasis on skills that are used in all subject areas and that students can apply in all educational, career, and civic settings throughout their lives. It’s also a central concept in reforms that question how teachers have traditionally taught and what students should be learning—such as the 21st century skills movement, which broadly calls on schools to create academic programs and learning experiences that equip students with the most essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions they will need to be successful in the collegiate programs and modern workplaces of the 21st century. As higher education and job requirements become more competitive, complex, and technical, proponents argue, students will need the kinds of skills that authentic-learning experiences can provide to successfully navigate the modern world, excel in challenging careers, and process increasingly complex information. Cons: Critics may question whether authentic-learning experiences can cover enough academic content in the core subject areas to ensure that students acquire a broad, well-rounded knowledge base. Critics may also argue that authentic learning, and related instructional strategies, may displace more traditional yet effective forms of teaching, fail to equip students with “the basics,” or lead to disorderly classrooms, among other possible arguments. Authentic learning may also place more burdens—both logistical and instructional—on teachers. For example, authentic learning may require significantly more planning and preparation, and teachers may need to acquire new and more sophisticated instructional techniques or substantially revise lesson plans they have used for years. Examples: An “authentic” way to teach the scientific method, for example, would be to ask students to develop a hypothesis about how ecosystems work that is based on first-hand observations of a local natural habitat, then have them design and conduct an experiment to prove or disprove the hypothesis. After the experiment is completed, students might then write up, present, and defend their findings to a panel of actual scientists. In contrast, a “less authentic” way to teach the scientific method would be to have students read about the concept in a textbook, memorize the prescribed process, and then take a multiple-choice test to determine how well they remember it. PBL is another form of authentic assessment in that

4. Diagnostic

4.1. Diagnostic Assessment provides a detailed analysis of performance-a data driven assessment of performance while simultaneously providing specific guidance (from an interpreter) regarding how to improve the quality of the work. Diagnostic assessment also provides a deeper level of insight than a surface level observation. It yields insight into how an individual thinks and uses language while engaged in interpreting. It uses a system of error analysis as the cornerstone for the process which can reveal patterns that exist in an interpreter’s work. The results can be used to guide skill development by examining the impact of various patterns on the overall quality and accuracy of the interpretation and determining priorities accordingly.

4.2. Pros: It is a valuable tool in making decisions about skill development needs and priorities.

4.3. Cons: Diagnostic Assessment does not seek to "credential" an interpreter or assign a rating.

4.4. Example:

4.4.1. DA can provide a detailed analysis of performance which can be used for professional development planning and job placement.

5. Peer assessment involves students taking responsibility for assessing the work of their peers against set assessment criteria. They can therefore be engaged in providing feedback to their peers (sometimes referred to as peer review), summative grades (moderated by you or your colleagues), or a combination of the two.

5.1. Pros: It's a powerful way for your students to act as the 'assessor' and to gain an opportunity to better understand assessment criteria It can also transfer some ownership of the assessment process to them, thereby potentially increasing their motivation and engagement. In doing so, your students might be encouraged to learn more deeply, building up their understanding, rather than just their knowledge of the facts, as well as gaining an insight into their own approach to an assessment task in comparison to their peers. This makes peer assessment an important component of Assessment for Learning, rather than simply a means of measuring performance. You may find that peer assessment is particularly useful in aiding your students to develop judgement skills, critiquing abilities and self-awareness.

5.1.1. Cons: Many of the associated problems may occur because it is a more complex assessment procedure (compared to tutor marked assessments) and the tutor has to manage a group of mostly very inexperienced assessors. Some tutors are reluctant to introduce peer-assessment due to concerns about the validity and reliability of peer-assessments, leading to the problem of inaccuracy/low precision of naïve markers and variability of marking standards of groups of peer assessors [e.g. Swanson et al. 1991]. Examples: You can use peer assessment for assessing both individual efforts and contributions to group work across a wide variety of activities. You can design peer assessment to be done openly, encouraging comparison and discussion, or anonymously depending on the assessment task and context. The key point is for you to to ensure that the participants (both your students and your colleagues) understand the purpose of peer assessment and what is expected of them. Preparation and clear assessment criteria are essential to supporting 'good' peer assessment.

6. Formative

6.1. Formative assessments are in-process evaluations of student learning that are typically administered multiple times during a unit, course, or academic program. The general purpose of formative assessment is to give educators in-process feedback about what students are learning or not learning so that instructional approaches, teaching materials, and academic support can be modified accordingly. Formative assessments are usually not scored or graded, and they may take a variety of forms, from more formal quizzes and assignments to informal questioning techniques and in-class discussions with students.

6.1.1. Pros: Refocus students on the learning process and its intrinsic value, rather than on grades or extrinsic rewards. Encourage students to build on their strengths rather than fixate or dwell on their deficits. (For a related discussion, see growth mindset.) Help students become more aware of their learning needs, strengths, and interests so they can take greater responsibility over their own educational growth. For example, students may learn how to self-assess their own progress and self-regulate their behaviors. Give students more detailed, precise, and useful information. Because grades and test scores only provide a general impression of academic achievement, usually at the completion of an instructional period, formative feedback can help to clarify and calibrate learning expectations for both students and parents. Students gain a clearer understanding of what is expected of them, and parents have more detailed information they can use to more effectively support their child’s education. Raise or accelerate the educational achievement of all students, while also reducing learning gaps and achievement gaps. Cons: common debate is whether formative assessments can or should be graded. Many educators contend that formative assessments can only be considered truly formative when they are ungraded and used exclusively to improve student learning. If grades are assigned to a quiz, test, project, or other work product, the reasoning goes, they become de facto summative assessments—i.e., the act of assigning a grade turns the assessment into a performance evaluation that is documented in a student’s academic record, as opposed to a diagnostic strategy used to improve student understanding and preparation before they are given a graded test or assignment. Some educators also make a distinction between “pure” formative assessments—those that are used on a daily basis by teachers while they are instructing students—and “interim” or “benchmark” assessments, which are typically periodic or quarterly assessments used to determine where students are in their learning progress or whether they are on track to meeting expected learning standards. While some educators may argue that any assessment method that is used diagnostically could be considered formative, including interim assessments, others contend that these two forms of assessment should remain distinct, given that different strategies, techniques, and professional development may be required. Examples: Questions that teachers pose to individual students and groups of students during the learning process to determine what specific concepts or skills they may be having trouble with. A wide variety of intentional questioning strategies may be employed, such as phrasing questions in specific ways to elicit more useful responses. Specific, detailed, and constructive feedback that teachers provide on student work, such as journal entries, essays, worksheets, research papers, projects, ungraded quizzes, lab results, or works of art, design, and performance. The feedback may be used to revise or improve a work product, for example. “Exit slips” or “exit tickets” that quickly collect student responses to a teacher’s questions at the end of a lesson or class period. Based on what the responses indicate, the teacher can then modify the next lesson to address concepts that students have failed to comprehend or skills they may be struggling with. “Admit slips” are a similar strategy used at the beginning of a class or lesson to determine what students have retained from previous learning experiences. Self-assessments that ask students to think about their own learning process, to reflect on what they do well or struggle with, and to articulate what they have learned or still need to learn to meet course expectations or learning standards. Peer assessments that allow students to use one another as learning resources. For example, “workshopping” a piece of writing with classmates is one common form of peer assessment, particularly if students follow a rubric or guidelines provided by a teacher.

7. Summative

7.1. Summative assessments are used to evaluate student learning at the conclusion of a specific instructional period—typically at the end of a unit, course, semester, program, or school year. Summative assessments are typically scored and graded tests, assignments, or projects that are used to determine whether students have learned what they were expected to learn during the defined instructional period.

7.1.1. Pros: Some summative assessments can still be used diagnostically, especially with the growing availability of student data, made possible by online grading systems and databases, can give teachers access to assessment results from previous years or other courses. By reviewing this data, teachers may be able to identify students more likely to struggle academically in certain subject areas or with certain concepts. In addition, students may be allowed to take some summative tests multiple times, and teachers might use the results to help prepare students for future administrations of the test. Cons: While there is little disagreement among educators about the need for or utility of summative assessments, debates and disagreements tend to center on issues of fairness and effectiveness, especially when summative-assessment results are used for high-stakes purposes. In these cases, educators, experts, reformers, policy makers, and others may debate whether assessments are being designed and used appropriately, or whether high-stakes tests are either beneficial or harmful to the educational process. For more detailed discussions of these issues, see high-stakes test, measurement error, test accommodations, test bias, score inflation, standardized test, and value-added measures. Examples: End-of-unit or chapter tests. End-of-term or semester tests. Standardized tests that are used to for the purposes of school accountability, college admissions (e.g., the SAT or ACT), or end-of-course evaluation (e.g., Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams). Culminating demonstrations of learning or other forms of “performance assessment,” such as portfolios of student work that are collected over time and evaluated by teachers or capstone projects that students work on over extended periods of time and that they present and defend at the conclusion of a school year or their high school education.

8. Portfolio

8.1. Portfolio-based assessments are collections of academic work—for example, assignments, lab results, writing samples, speeches, student-created films, or art projects—that are compiled by students and assessed by teachers in consistent ways. Portfolio-based assessments are often used to evaluate a “body of knowledge”—i.e., the acquisition of diverse knowledge and skills over a period of time. Portfolio materials can be collected in physical or digital formats, and they are often evaluated to determine whether students have met required learning standards. For a more detailed discussion, see portfolio.

8.1.1. Pros: Student portfolios are most effective when they are used to evaluate student learning progress and achievement. Portfolios can help teachers monitor and evaluate learning progress over time. Portfolios help teachers determine whether students can apply what they have learned to new problems and different subject areas. Portfolios can encourage students to take more ownership and responsibility over the learning process. Portfolios can improve communication between teachers and parents. Cons: Portfolios may also be viewed negatively if they are poorly designed and executed, if they tend to be filed away and forgotten, if they are not actively maintained by students, if they are not meaningfully integrated into the school’s academic program, if educators do not use them to inform and adjust their instructional techniques, or if sufficient time is not provided during the school day for teachers and students to review and discuss them. In short, how portfolios are actually used or not used in schools, and whether they produce the desired educational results, will likely determine how they are perceived. Examples: Portfolios come in many forms, from notebooks filled with documents, notes, and graphics to online digital archives and student-created websites, and they may be used at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Portfolios can be a physical collection of student work that includes materials such as written assignments, journal entries, completed tests, artwork, lab reports, physical projects (such as dioramas or models), and other material evidence of learning progress and academic accomplishment, including awards, honors, certifications, recommendations, written evaluations by teachers or peers, and self-reflections written by students. Portfolios may also be digital archives, presentations, blogs, or websites that feature the same materials as physical portfolios, but that may also include content such as student-created videos, multimedia presentations, spreadsheets, websites, photographs, or other digital artifacts of learning.

9. Self-Assessment

9.1. Self-assessment requires students to reflect on their own work and judge how well they have performed in relation to the assessment criteria.

9.1.1. Pros: In order to self-assess effectively, students must have an understanding of the criteria that they gauge their performance against in order to be able to evaluate what makes a piece of work good or poor. Internalising these criteria encourages deep rather than surface learning, greater autonomy3 and helps them to better engage with feedback from you and your colleagues4. In order for this to take place the assessment criteria must be transparent and comprehensible to students so that they can effectively judge how well they have met them. Where possible, student involvement in the formation of these criteria is desirable to enhance student's understanding of academic standards and the expectations you have of them. Cons: The focus is not necessarily on having students generate their own grades, but rather providing opportunities for them to be able to identify what constitutes a good (or poor!) piece of work. Some degree of student involvement in the development and comprehension of assessment criteria is therefore an important component of self-assessment. Examples: You could use self-assessment in the form of reflective exercises, such as logs or diaries, or by encouraging your students to assess how well they've met the assessment criteria in more traditional tasks such as essays and presentations. Audits or essay feedback questionnaires that students complete on submitting a piece of coursework are particularly helpful as you can compare your perception of their work with your students' views on how well they have performed. You could use self-assessment in a stand-alone context, or in conjunction with peer assessment.

10. Peer Assessment

11. References:

11.1. "Assessments." (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from

11.2. "Authentic Learning." (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from

11.3. "Diagnostic Assessment." NCIEC. Retrieved from:

11.4. "Formative." (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from

11.5. "High Stakes Assessment." (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from

11.6. "Peer Assessment." Retrived from" Peer assessment - Engage in Assessment - University of Reading

11.7. "Performance Based Assessments." (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from

11.8. "Portfolio." (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from

11.9. "Self-Assessment." Retrieved from: Self-assessment - Engage in Assessment - University of Reading

11.10. "Summative." (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from