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.
Advantages: Provides school districts will real data that they can use to address problematic areas or implement new strategies throughout school sites. Opens the dialogue for collaboration between school sites/districts.
Disadvantages: High Stakes tests can be very intimidating and stressful on the student population.
Example: An example of a high stakes assessment that we use in Californiat is the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
High stakes tests. (2014, Aug 18). The Glossary of Education Reform. Retrieved from
When incorporated into classroom practice, the formative assessment process provides information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are still happening. The process serves as practice for the student and a check for understanding during the learning process. The formative assessment process guides teachers in making decisions about future instruction.
Advantage: Allows the teacher to check for understanding while "in the middle" of implementing the lesson/unit plan.
Disadvantage: If students are not progressing through the lesson plan/unit plan successfully, this will require the teacher to adjust the teaching strategy causing more work throughout its implementation. Can be time consuming.
For Learning: Because formative assessments allow the teacher to check for understanding, this assessment is geared for learning.
Example: An example of a formative assessment that I frequently use in my classroom is classroom discussion or peer to peer discussions. I can gage student understanding by observing my student's classroom/peer discussions.
Examples of formative assessments. (n.d.). West Virginia Department of Education. Retrieved from
Diagnostic assessment is a form of pre-assessment that allows a teacher to determine students' individual strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills prior to instruction. It is primarily used to diagnose student difficulties and to guide lesson and curriculum planning.
The purpose it to give the teacher a gage at where students are prior to a specific unit plan.
Advantage: This is an informal, stress free assessment that teachers can use to identify what students know prior to implementing a lesson or unit plan. What do we know? What do I want to know?
Disadvantage: If students do not know any information about a certain unit that is going to be addressed, the teacher may have to amend the lesson plan to strengthen their understanding of what is going to be learned prior to learning. Can be time consuming.
For any unit that I will be introducing, I use a diagnostic assessment to ask students what they know about the content that is going to be discussed? What do you know about the Civil Rights Movement? How was the U.S. formed? What was the Revolution?
What is a diagnostic assessment? (n.d.) Study. Retrieved from
Summative assessments are used to evaluate student learning, skill acquisition, and academic achievement at the conclusion of a defined instructional period, typically at the end of a project, unit, course, semester, program, or school year.
Summative Assessments are used to determine complete understanding at the end of a unit.
Advantage: It gives the teacher a true gage at student understanding covering all content and material discussed throughout any given unit.
Disadvantage: This is a higher point earning test covering a wide range of material. If students do not understand the unit content, or specific areas of the lesson plans throughout the unit, they may be adversely impacted on the unit exam.
Assessment of Learning: This is an assessment of learning because it covers material throughout any given unit plan.
Example: An example of a summative assessment I use in my classroom is a unit exam. Prior to my unit exam, I usually give students a unit study guide covering all the material and content that has been addressed throughout the unit.
Summative assessment. (n.d.). The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from
Portfolio assessment is an assessment form that learners do together with their teachers, and is an alternative to the classic classroom test. The portfolio contains samples of the learner's work and shows growth over time.
Advantage: By reflecting on their own work, learners begin to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their own work (self-assessment). The weaknesses then become improvement goals. In portfolio assessment it is the quality that counts, not the quantity. Another keyword is learning objectives. Each portfolio entry needs to be assessed with reference to its specific learning objectives or goals.
Disadvantage:It is a long process to evaluate work and is time consuming.
Of Learning: Because a portfolio is culmination of work gathered throughout any given unit.
I can have student keep all their work throughout any given unit and keep it in a portfolio/binder. Students will then be able to evaluate their portfolios at the end of the unit or as a reference to prepare for the unit exam (summative).
Portfolio assessment. (n.d.) Its Learning. Retrieved from
Performance-based assessments share the key characteristic of accurately measuring one or more specific course standards. They are also complex, authentic, process/product-oriented, open-ended, and time-bound.
Allows students to apply their knowledge and skills of the unit or lesson plan.
Advantages: Projects can be developed and made fun for students.
Disadvantage: Can be time consuming.
Example: Students can be partnered up to do a project at the end of a unit.
Hillard, P. (2015, Dec 7). Edutopia. Retrieved from
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.
Students to act as the 'assessor' and to gain an opportunity to better understand assessment criteria
Advantage: Students take ownership of the assessment process, its low stakes and stress free, and can get students motivated to do well knowing their peers will be looking at their work. Allows for great peer to peer collaboration.
Disadvantage: If a student is as equally knowledgeable about the content or material that can be unfair to the student who's work is being assessed.
Example: Have students work in their journals and create a journal entry about the topic being discussed. Students will trade journals with their shoulder partner and assess their work.
Peer assessment. (n.d.). University of Reading. Retrieved from
A form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills
An authentic assessment usually includes a task for students to perform and a rubric by which their performance on the task will be evaluated
Advantage: Allows students to use their skills and understanding n a real word manner.
Disadvantage: Can be time consuming. If a unit plan is implemented as part of a bigger academic calendar, time can be detrimental to the implementation of an authentic assessment.
Example: An example I can use of an authentic assessment in History is to have students address a certain behavior in history, Civil Rights Movement, and apply that knowledge to a present day situation (racial injustice).
What is an authentic assessment? (n.d.). JF Mueller. Retrieved from
Student self-assessment involves students in evaluating their own work and learning progress. Self-assessment is a valuable learning tool as well as part of an assessment process
Advantages: Allows students to identify their own skill prowess and weakness. Shows where to focus attention in learning. Students can set realistic goals and revise their work. They can track their own progress.
Disadvantages: Students may not utilize the data they have found through their self-assessment which will cause them to fall further behind.
For learning: This allows students to assess themselves and determine their strengths and weaknesses.
Example of a self-assessment for my grade level would be to have students write a paper on a topic covered, revisit the content as a class, and have students re-evaluate their papers and make additions or amendments to their work.
Student self-assessment. (n.d.). Stanford Teaching Commons. Retrieved from