Education reforms have increased the demands to measure student performance in the classroom. But what assessments are the best to measure progress? There are formative assessments that provide frequent feedback to the teacher to inform instruction and may or may not be graded. There are summative assessments that are high stakes tests, projects, performances given at the conclusion of a unit, quarter or semester. These two assessments are like bookends of the grade book.
This school year, the interim assessments have been causing the most consternation with members of my faculty. Interim assessments are those tied to measuring student progress on standards such as those in the Common Core State Standards and standardized tests.
But finding generic or discipline specific examples of other interim assessments has proved more difficult. Exactly how many interim assessments are necessary? What kinds of assessments are clearly interim? After many discussions, it is clear that among the members of my school’s faculty, the lines blur on the spectrum of assessment, from formative to interim and from interim to summative.
In doing research to help teachers, I did come across an explanation of the purpose of interim assessments. The explanation described the three reasons to use interim assessments: for instruction, for evaluation, and for prediction. These reasons may help guide the members of our faculty in developing and implementing these assessments next school year. Before the school days come to an end this year, hopefully we can clear up this assessment daze.