Understanding and Using Assessments

Understanding and Using Assessments

ESE 610 Assessment and Evaluation of Students with Mild to Moderate

Understanding and Using Assessments

Within everyone’s life especially a student we are always being assessed about something. Assessments can be from school, doctors, or even your peers. Assessment is a part of our everyday lives. Throughout this paper we will further explore assessments as it relates to informal and formal assessments, ways of supporting each type of assessment, what the purpose is of assessments, and how assessments are used to help with and student’s IEP.

Informal and Formal Assessments

There are many different types of assessment. Today we will further explore the informal and formal types of assessment. Not all assessments are the same, but they are designed to bring you some of the same results. Informal and Formal assessments are the overall ways of assessing a student. Informal assessments are assessments that teachers use everyday to measure how much process the student has made. First, informal assessments come in many types of ways such as criterion-referenced test, or (CRTs). Informal assessments are not data driven but rather content and performance driven. (Weaver, B. (2018) These types of test report how well a student is doing relative to a predetermined performance level on a specified set of educational goals or outcomes included in the school, district, or state curriculum. (Pierangelo,2012) Standards-reference test, ecological assessment, curriculum-based assessment, dynamic assessment, portfolio assessment, authentic/naturalistic/performance-based assessment, outcome-based assessment, and learning style assessment. These are all different types of informal assessments that can be given to a student. A few ideas for this type of assessment could be ecological assessment, observing a student in their everyday environment. Observe a child in math center and asked simple questions like if you have 5 red marbles and you give Mrs. Dee 3 of your red marbles, how many would you have left. Allowing a student to operate in the environment that they are comfortable in with things that they already use daily. By doing this you observed if the student was able to do a math problem using items from their everyday environments. Another type of informal assessment is portfolio assessment. This type of assessment can be use to show parents in a parent teacher conference the growth of a student. For instance, Billy wrote this passage the first day of school. Now this is the passages that Billy is writing now. Another type of assessment is performance-based assessment. Performance based assessment is when you apply the knowledge received to real life activities. (Pierangelo,2012) This type of assessment can be asking the student to draw a book cover for a book that you read in class. Giving the students a criterion, they must follow, such as pick your favorite part in the book, draw a picture, and explain the picture. These are all different ways of informal assessments.

Next, we can discuss formal assessments. Formal assessments are test that assume a single set of expectations for all students and come with prescribed criteria for scoring and interpretation. (Pierangelo,2012) Formal assessments also have data which support the conclusions made from the test. (Weaver, B. (2018). Some examples of formal testing are essay test, SAT test, and rubric-scored assignments.

Summary Evaluation

By the teacher being able to use multiple ways of assessment through informal and formal assessment it allows for everything to be individualized according to the students. What works best for them. Sometimes students are not comfortable being assessed in the same manner so, some modifications have to take place. By using both forms of assessment it creates for a unbiased environment for the student.

Purposes, Merits, and Limitations of Standardized Assessments

The purpose of standardized testing is rank order of test takers or to compare students scores with groups of students who took the same test. ((Pierangelo,2012) These types of test also help with giving teachers a guideline to be able to place students at the appropriate level of learning in their classes. Although standardized testing has been criticized in regard to the test for there content, item format, and item bias (Pierangelo,2012) Some of these test struggle with low content validity which makes the test no good. With these mishaps its limits what the test can provide.

Statistical Concepts

Every type of assessment has statistic that follow behind it. These stats are used to properly place students where they should be place in classrooms, through IEP, or any other programs. Terms that are used to figure out these placements for IEPs are mean, median, mode, frequency distributions, standard deviation, validity, reliability, and the normal curve. All of these terms play a key role in the statistical concepts. Statistics provides the special educator the chance to equate children to the norms in numerous and diverse ways. (Pierangelo,2012) The Mean, Median, and Mode are the measures of central tendency. These three forms of data organize and describe the data to see how the data falls together or in a cluster. (Pierangelo,2012) The mean is the average of the distribution of the scores provided. You add all the number together and then divide it by the number of units you have. This will get you the mean or the average of that data. The median is the middle number of the numbers that were distributed. This is where have of your numbers are above and the other half are below. The median or the middle of your data. (Pierangelo,2012) The mode is the most frequent number that occurs. Frequency distributions implies to how often that score occurs in the data. Standard deviation this is the spread of scores around the mean. (Pierangelo,2012) The standard deviation is calculated by taking the square root of the variance. (Pierangelo,2012) Validity is the extent to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure. (Pierangelo,2012) If the test is supposed to measure if a student can count to 100, you don’t have how to group 100 in groups of 10. Validity is getting exactly what you asked for. Reliability is the consistency of the test. We have to make sure that the test are consistent for everyone taking out all of the bias elements in a test.

The normal curve tells us about the test scores and the population that is being tested. The normal curve is the one thing that never changes. It always stays the same. The normal curve can help determine where a student should be place according to the students SD and IQ scores.


In conclusion of using assessments in its proper way we have seen that there are many different types of assessments. The data that go along with these assessments are very important and can be measure in different ways as well. All of these resources help us as teachers be able to place students in their proper places of study. Although we have come a long way with the ways or reliability and validity of test, we can say they have got better. There is also room for improvement.


Pierangelo, R., & Giuliani, G. A. (2012). Assessment in special education: A practical approach. Boston: Pearson.

Weaver, B. (2018). Formal vs Informal Assessment. Retrieved from: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/formal-vs-informal-assessments/

Wrightslaw. (January, 2014). Tests and measurements for the parent, teacher, advocate & attorney (Links to an external site.). Retrieved from http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/tests_measurements.html

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