At their core, assessment measures, whether they are formal or informal, work to give a snapshot of a student’s ability level and skill development. The results of these measures can provide educators with insight and understanding of a students’ academic proficiency and can present educators with a road map to assist in strengthening any necessary academic skills.
While formal assessment measures can give a picture of student performance as measured against peers using normed references, it is informal assessment that teachers most frequently use to improve, modify, adapt, and accommodate instruction as a means to maximize student learning as measured through their performance. Informal assessment measures are a key component of diagnostic and perspective teaching.
For example, a teacher can use an informal assessment to gauge a student’s writing ability by asking them to compose a paragraph on a particular topic. From this sample, a teacher can glean if they understand paragraph and sentence structure, if a student exhibited a particular pattern of spelling errors, or if the diction doesn’t match the student’s oral vocabulary capabilities. Additionally, a teacher can gather the same type of information about a student’s reading ability. Do their reading miscues cluster together under a specific rule? Do they often place the stress on the wrong syllable? Do they struggle to recognize common endings?
Teachers can use this data as a means to plan instruction or group students. This type of monitoring of student progress can be valuable in ensuring that students are getting the type of instruction they need to make progress.
Explore this Reading Rockets page to learn more about the many types of assessment and their role in education.