Types of Education

Education plays a key role in providing the knowledge and skill sets that prepare a child for his future in the world. This knowledge should be imparted in a dynamic way to ensure that it accommodates all the changes happening in our society on a regular basis. But, effective education is a two-way process. This means that, along with the students understanding what is being taught to them, the instructor should also know the issues faced by the students, so as to enhance his teaching strategy. This is where the concept of ‘educational assessment’ comes into play.

Assessment is simply the collection of information that indicates the learning progress of the students. This is followed by the process of evaluation, which judges if the collected data is up to the mark, or not. Both these stages are used to decide if the decision-making process needs to be altered to address the weaknesses in the education program. But, there are different types of assessment techniques, which have their uses at various stages of an academic program. Let us understand what these types of assessments are, along with some examples of each.

Assessment Types

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is carried out on a day-to-day basis, and is more important towards the beginning of a course, topic, semester, or other educational units. The purpose of this method is to give feedback to an instructor about the teaching and learning process. Based on the results of this assessment, he/she can either retain, modify, or discontinue the teaching method.
As such, formative assessment helps educational authorities enhance their teaching strategy so that it is more effective. It is a low-stakes test, where the results are not used for grading students.

Examples of such an assessment include group discussions, observations, oral questions, and journals.

Interim Assessment

Interim assessment is carried out after some time has lapsed since the beginning of a course, topic, or unit. It helps the instructor evaluate the effectiveness of a teaching method by this stage. Interim assessment can also help authorities decide if students, the class, or the school district is on its way to achieving its performance goals. This helps identify students who may not perform successfully at the end of the course.
This technique forms a middle ground between the day-to-day monitoring of formative assessment and the formal testing of summative assessment.

Examples of this technique are some formal testing methods like assignments, chapter tests, and essays.

Summative Assessment

An assessment performed at the end of a course, unit, or year, is known as a summative assessment. Its purpose is to find out how much a student has learned, how effective the teaching methods have been, and make the required improvements in the next course. Summative assessments can also help the district authorities decide the effectiveness of their education programs.
Basically, this method is used to give a measure of the student’s success, reward his performance, and provide criteria for passing the student to the next stage. Therefore, it is a high-stakes test, which decides the final marking of students.

End-of-course tests, portfolios, project submissions, quizzes, final exams, and research reports, all come under this type of technique.

Diagnostic Assessment

Diagnostic assessment helps instructors find out how much a student already knows before the beginning of a course, unit, semester, or academic year. This allows them to decide on an appropriate teaching method or strategy, which can target the student’s problems. While usually this assessment is carried out at the beginning of a course, in some cases, it may be performed midway for those students whose performance is not satisfactory, so that they can be brought on par.
Examples of diagnostic tests include interviews, pretests, self assessments, and checklists.

Standard-based Assessment

Standard-based assessment compares the performance of a student with well-defined goals, standards, or criteria. While such benchmarks may be decided at the local, state, or national levels, schools may also set their own criteria for performance evaluation. It’s important to note that such tests do not compare the performance of students with each other.

An example of such an assessment is a driving test, where all applicants have to satisfy a benchmark of not endangering public safety. Other examples are chapter tests, DIBELS tests for early childhood literacy, and FCAT tests in Florida schools.
Norm-based Assessment

Norm-based assessment compares the performance of a student with all the other students who have taken the test, and not with predefined standards. This technique judges how the student has fared compared to a ‘norm’, or sample group of the same age or grade. Such assessments usually measure common school concepts taught around the country. The performance of the students is measured in terms of percentile ranks, scaled scores, or normal curve equivalents (NCE).

Examples of this assessment method are IQ tests, SAT and ACT tests for US college admissions, and Iowa tests for schoolchildren progress.

These basic types of educational assessments have their own advantages and disadvantages. Most researchers agree that formative testing is far superior than the other methods, because it allows the continuous improvement of teaching standards. Despite the importance of summative assessments in deciding whether students have passed or failed, these tests occur too late in the curriculum to help students pull up their socks in time.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-educational-assessment-and-their-purpose.html