Types of Assessment in Education And Their Uses

To understand the abilities of students, it is important to conduct different types of assessments in education from time to time. It is equally crucial for teachers to know if they are making an impact in the lives of students and not merely whiling away time.

Furthermore, through assessments, students are able to see their performance and know where to put more effort toward their learning.

Teachers can equally know where each student needs help and seek strategies to help them become better.

Additionally, assessments can take many forms depending on the goal teachers have in mind and the stage it is done. Hence, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to assessments in education.

Whatever the stage, the importance of assessments in education cannot be overemphasized. Hence, this article seeks to treat the definition of assessments in education, the types of assessments in education, and their importance.

What Is Assessment in Education

Assessment in education refers to a process of evaluating, measuring, and documenting the academic readiness, skill progress, skill acquisition, or educational needs of students.

Assessment in education may come in the form of various tests to measure specific elements of learning such as the level of knowledge of students, and their ability to comprehend, amongst other things.

Also, the assessment helps to identify individual student weaknesses and strengths so that educators can provide specialized academic support, educational programming, or social services.

Although assessment in education is often used interchangeably with tests, it is not limited to tests. The term assessment is generally used to refer to all activities teachers use to help students learn and to gauge students’ progress.

Types of assessment in education

It is important to use the appropriate assessment tool for the task at hand. But, understanding the types of assessments in education is the first step to using assessment data to effectively support students.

Assessments have a wide variety of purposes in schools and the educational system and it also helps to answer key questions such as;

  • What do students know and what do they not know yet?
  • Where are students struggling and why?
  • What should you teach next and what should you adjust in future lessons?
  • Does the curriculum have gaps between learning expectations and assessment?
  • Which student needs an intervention?
  • Which intervention matches the need?
  • Are the students physically, intellectually, and psychologically carried along?

All these questions and more are questions assessment in education seeks to answer.

There are different types of assessment in education.

All assessment methods have different purposes, help to identify different issues, and also to evaluate different aspects of a student’s performance. These types of assessments in education are:

1. High-stakes Assessments

High-stakes assessments are the type of assessment used for the purpose of accountability. Typically, high-stakes assessment is usually in a standardized form.

What this means is that high-stakes assessment has a fixed format for formal settings. This form of assessment is most often used by federal, state, or local governments to ensure that students enroll in appropriate schools and learn from effective teachers.

In general, “high stakes” means that important decisions about students, schools, and teachers are based on the scores the students achieved on a high-stakes test.

Moreso, students may get awards, grade promotions, bonuses, etc., for performing excellently. In contrast, students who do not perform well may have to resit for the exam.

2. Pre-Assessments or Diagnostic Assessments

Pre-Assessments also known as diagnostic assessments are administered before students begin a lesson, unit, course, or academic program. The goal is to know the student’s weaknesses, strengths, and the skill and knowledge they possess.

Also, pre-assessment is a tool to pinpoint specific learning needs and as a guide to academic, curricular, and instructional decisions.

Taking a pre-test before learning the course material further helps students to focus and retain information better. This way they can do better in the overall class than usual.

3. Interim Assessments

Interim assessments help to evaluate where students are in their learning progress and determine whether they are on track to perform well on future assessments.

They carry out this type of assessment periodically or seasonally. Usually, they help to determine the student’s end-of-the-year or session proficiency.

Furthermore, it is usually separate from the process of instructing students. What this means is that the assessment is not integrated into the instructional process.

4. Formative Assessments

Teachers and students use these types of assessments during lessons. They carry it out multiple times during a unit, course, or academic program.

Generally, the purpose of formative assessments is to give instructors feedback about what students are learning or not learning so that they can adjust instructional approaches, teaching materials, and academic support accordingly.

Moreso, it can take the form of oral questions, draft work, quizzes, diagnostic or standardized tests. Formative assessments aid learning. However, they do not usually score or grade them.

5. Summative Assessments

Summative assessment is the process of certifying or evaluating learning at the end of a specific period of instruction. They are usually administered at the conclusion of a year, course, or term.

This type of assessment is aimed at assessing the extent to which the most important objectives have been reached at the end of the instructions. It measures the effectiveness of learning, students’ reaction to the instruction, and the benefit on a long-term basis.

Also, summative assessment is a type of graded test, task, or project used to determine whether or not the student is learning during a specific instruction period.

6. Universal Screening Assessments

Universal screening assessments help to determine whether students may need specialized assistance or services, or whether they are ready to begin a course, grade level, or academic program.

It is the process of gathering academic and social-emotional behavior data about all the students in the class, school, or grade in order to identify which student needs additional assistance to meet the learning goals.

They administer the assessments to all students in the areas of math, reading, and social-emotional behavior. It can occur at the beginning of a year, period, or session and at any other point during the year.

Furthermore, universal screening assessments should be valid and reliable because they serve in evaluating potential learning disabilities in students, health, and other students’ attributes in critical situations.

7. Placement Assessments

This type of assessment helps to place students at the most appropriate point in an instructional sequence based on their prior achievements or personal characteristics.

Teachers use placement assessments to determine what a student’s skill level is in a subject. It helps to know what course, course level, or academic program to place students in.

Moreso, this form of assessment is usually administered before a program or course begins and they are not usually graded. The main aim is to match students with appropriate learning experiences that address their different learning needs.

8. Referencing Assessments

There are basically three forms of referencing assessments;

Criterion-referenced assessment

Criterion-referenced assessment refers to a form of assessment in which teachers measure students’ performances against a fixed set of predetermined criteria or learning standards.

It establishes a person’s competence and it checks what students ought to know and do at a particular stage of their education.

Norm-referenced assessment

Norm-referenced assessment on the other hand is not measured against defined criteria. It measures a student’s performance against an average norm. It is effectively a way of comparing students. The IQ test is one best examples of norm-referenced assessments.

Ipsative assessment

Ipsative assessment is one form of referencing assessment used to measure the performance of a student against previous performances from that same student.

This method helps to determine the improvement of the student by comparing the current result with past results.

9. Performance Assessments

Performance assessments are similar to summative assessments. They help to measure the achievements of students and instructors.

Typically, it requires students to complete complex tasks such as writing essays and assignments, science experiments, speeches, presentations, or long-term projects.

These tasks help to evaluate whether the outcome produced by the students shows that they understood the lesson. Some educators consider them to be more meaningful and accurate evaluations of learning achievement.

10. Progress Monitoring Assessments

This form of assessment is a standardized process of evaluating progress toward a performance target, based on rates of improvement from frequent assessment of a particular skill.

Progress monitoring assessments help to measure the effectiveness of an intervention. In other words, it checks if the intervention is working or not. It also helps to determine if the intervention is working fast enough.

Furthermore, they are highly sensitive to growth and align with the student’s needs.

Importance of Assessment in Education

Assessment in education has made learning effective and the different types of assessment in education come with a lot of benefits, some of which are:

1. Making schools more committed to students’ performance

Assessment in education has played an increasingly central role in an effort to hold schools accountable for improving the academic achievements of students. It has created an ideology of leaving no child behind in the learning process.

2. Helps to measure students’ performance

Educational assessment is a way to measure how well students are meeting the standard. Teachers are able to derive means to cater to each child individually thereby improving instructional quality and students’ achievement.

3. Provides feedback mechanism to improve the teaching process

Because assessment is a way to measure the acquisition of certain knowledge, the feedback mechanism has made it possible for instructors to adjust their teaching plans during the teaching process.

4. Helps teachers to spot students learning need

Assessment in education has made it possible for teachers to identify the learning needs of every student, diagnose learning disabilities, evaluate language ability, or determine eligibility for specialized educational services.

This makes it possible to provide proactive solutions for educational support services to students.

5. Ensure that students meet their learning goals

It helps students understand their progress toward course goals and modify their behavior in order to meet up those goals.

Hence, students are able to achieve the essence of education which is to acquire knowledge that they can defend.

6. Reduce the academic pressure on students

Assessment in education has also helped not reduce overburdening of students. For instance, placement assessment has helped to know where and how to place a student.

In so doing, it is easy to place students where he or she rightly fits and doesn’t have to try too hard to meet up with the standards that they can’t obviously cope with.


How valid are assessments?

The validity of an assessment is dependent on its alignment with the learning objectives, goals, and targets.

Why is assessment important in education?

Assessment helps teachers to know students’ knowledge level on a subject and if they are meeting the lesson objectives.

Moreso, students can see how well they are performing and seek for improving where they are lacking.

What is the difference between assessment and grading?

Assessment takes a much broader approach to learning than grading does.

Grades are basically for a single course or project and it says little about whether or not students have been able to make connections across courses.


Assessment in education has helped improve the standard of education across the world and it has been able to breach the gap between the high-performing and low-ability students in class.

Moreso, the different types of assessment in education makes it possible for instructors to get insight into a host of things about students and to make better decisions regarding their learning process.

Hence, it is best to conduct a pre-assessment test on students to know their ability and knowledge level on a topic before going ahead to prepare their lesson notes or instructional materials.

Also, if you need to compare a student’s knowledge before and after a stage during learning then a progress monitoring assessment will help.

Lastly, it would be best if you check the article on how to assess your online students so as to stand out as an online tutor.

Thanks for reading.