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Assessing your Assessment Types

08 Aug 2019
As a teacher, I never quite got my head around the impact, difference and purpose of the different types of assessment. Sure, I wrote thousands of words about them during my teaching degree. Of course I handed out, marked and fed back on probably thousands of assessments during my years in the classroom.

What I have come to doubt is if I really understood why

Teachers perform several jobs at any given time: instructor; behaviour manager; comforter; advisor to name a few. We carry out all of these different aspects of our job without really ever needing to (or having time to) look any deeper than the fact it’s expected of us.

Having stepped away from the classroom, I can see now just how much was expected of me and how much I really hadn’t carefully considered each aspect of my role. For example, I chose the assessment types, I chose how and when to give it to my classes, I marked it in a way I felt comfortable (get each exam paper open on the same page and mark a question at a time, if you were wondering!) but what I didn’t ever do was fully understand why this type of assessment and why now.

Whilst researching for CPD strategies, I came up with some really useful breakdowns of the different types of assessment, including when and how to use them (and importantly, why.)

When I think of assessments, I think of formative assessment and summative assessments.

Here is a bit of a breakdown of the two:

Formative assessment 

Consistent, regular assessment to monitor progress and give pupils continuous feedback. 

  • Commonly used examples include ‘Think, pair, share’, exit tickets and RAG rating systems. 
  • Used throughout the learning process with regular check ins, marking and questioning. 
  • It provides both you and the pupils (and SLT) with continual feedback and allows fairly accurate progress monitoring.
  • Can be more informal and dialogue based as opposed to specific data-driven grades or anxiety-ridden end of term assessments.

Some ideas for formative assessment include:
  • Practice quizzes
  • Individual exam questions
  • In-class writing exercises
  • Various kinds of group work in the class

What do you use as your formative assessment? Have you found any more exciting methods or tips for keeping it regular, informative and mutually helpful for you and the pupils?

Summative assessment  

Assessing the learning to evaluate against a standard or benchmark. 

  • Unlike formative assessment, it’s used at the end of the learning process (End of Unit, End of term, end of year for example.) It’s a summary of their learning journey so far.
  • More formal marks and grades are involved in summative assessments as these are the assessments which allow schools to compare the pupil to the national/school or locality’s benchmark or standard for data purposes. 

Examples of summative assessment you see in most classrooms include: 

  • Multiple choice question papers
  • Exam papers
  • Final projects such as a collaborative, written presentation or computer based project
  • Final exam.

Have you got any top tips for preparing summative assessments in advance? Do you use a variety or mostly written papers?

Peer assessment and Self assessment 

Often forgotten and still important- the assessment types which put the onus on the pupils.

  • These are useful to plan into every single lesson plan - not only does it mean you are freed up to address any pupils one to one or work with specific groups of pupils, it also means that pupils are required to really be reflective. (I have always been shocked by how much pupils love to play the role of ‘teacher’ and get their hands on their peers’ work!)
  • I would recommend a carousel activity where more than one pupil proofs the work or another. In this scenario, a pen is left on the book or worksheet and (depending on the energy levels and behaviour of pupils) they can either be told which book to go to or you can do ‘musical chairs’ and get pupils to move around the room and then mark the work closest to them. This avoids the usual act of picking their friends and more importantly means that pupils will get more variety on the type and quality of response on their work.

Rose Moss taught French and English in Derbyshire for 4 years. She is also the content writer at OneStep CPD, Product Owner of Leader's Digest, and provides support to Twinkl customers as part of the TwinklCares team.


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