The act of collecting data, either informally or formally, on an individuals capability to perform an act or knowledge of content.  Data collected guides decisions on instruction and planning.


Is a single measurement tool for student knowledge. Evaluated and scored based on criteria/content  providded.  Can be administered at anytime (for example unit or chapter test).


 The product of assessment, evaluation is the act of analyzing and judging assessment data.
Alternative Assessment

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  Instrument used to obtain standards based performance and progress for students with severe disabilities in lieu of standardized testing.

A different assessment that demonstrates a mastery or improvement of skills in a form or fashion  other than standardized tests.  For example a portfolio of student work samples.

Authentic Assessment
Assessing the application of knowledge and skills taught to a student in a real world setting without prompting from the teacher.
Achievement Tests
A knowledge or proficiecy test on content that is learned or taught. A determination of a student’s knowledge  of a particular subject or content area.
Intelligence Tests
A series of tests that measure ones mental ability or academic aptitude (verbal, spatial). Some believe intelligence does not change – native intelligence.
Anecdotal Records
Short notes taken during or after an observation is made. On the sport recording of learning or behavior.
Tangible piece of evidence of student learning.  Primarily items that are selected for student portfolios or summative assessments.
A collection of student and/or teacher selected artifacts that demonstrate student learning and progress.

Benchmarks –

Benchmarks Tests

Benchmarks are standards to which something can be measured against.

Assessments used to measure students learning against the standards.

Assessment that collects data on student’s knowledge of specific content. Typically, the goal is to have every student attain a passing score, not to compare students to each other.


Norming group

An assessment in which a student’s performance is compared with a larger group. Usually the larger group is representative of a cross-section of all US students.   Typically scores fall on a bell curve. Norming group represents the population the test was written for.
Percentile rank vs. Percentage

Precentile is a ranking score that represents a student’s ranking in comparison to peers.  If a student is in the 95th precentile he scored higher than 95% of their peers.

Percentage is the calculation of the number of correct answers over the total number possible. Most commonly used in classroom assessment.

Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE)-Grade Equivalent

NCE is an interval score used in edcuational assessments.  Raw scores are converted into a scale score that allows comparison across states by NAEP.

Grade Equivalent is a descriptive ranking score of normative data that is understandable by parents. It is reported in grade levels and tenths of months. For example 6.2 is equal to grade 6 and 2/10 of the year.



A norm-referenced ranking scale that compares scores within a population. Scores are divided into a 9 point scale along the bell curve and provide the following data: stanine 1-3 below average, 4-6 average, and 7-9 above average.

Bell Curve
A qualitative assessment tool used with standardized testing.  The distribution of scores results in a bell shaped curve.
Raw scores, scale scores

Raw scores are the number of correct scores on a given assessment and can only be compared between other scores from the same assessment.


Scale scores are raw scores converted to a standard interval scale that allows data from mulitple assessment types to be compared.

Performance assessment
A single, teacher created event that will assess the student performing a complex task that applies knowledge and skills learned. For example, a driver’s test or writing a research paper.
Pre- and post-assessment

Pre-assessment gathers data on the skill set students currently possess before starting a new unit or subject. 


Post-assessment gathers data on what a student learned from said unit or subject.  Both assessment types are used to guide teacher decisions on planning and instruction.

Qualitative assessment
An assessment that can be subjective and requires judgement, typically seen with observation type assessments as well as essay and short answer tests.  A rubric would be an example of an assessment tool used with qualitative assessments.
Quantitative Assessment
An objective assessment that yields a numerical and calculable score such as a percentage. Quantitative assessments consist of questions where only one correct answer exists such as multiple choice ad true/false.
The consistency of an assessment and the ability to rely on the measurement yielded.
The accuracy of the assessment.  Measurement results can be trusted to be valid and accurate.
Any material slanted toward a particular person or group resulting in unfair practice.
A qualitative assessment tool based on set criteria that evaluates student knowledge and skills.
Any individual or group that has invested interest in the school and education.
Only one answer is possible, objective test questions consist of true/false and multiple choice.

Subjective questions may have more than one answer; opinion and feeling may play a role.  Typically questions are open ended and require expert judgement.
Social Promotion
The belief that social concerns serve a better criterion for the advancement of students from one grade to next rather than academic concerns.
More prevalent in the early grades, the act of keeping a student from promoting to the next grade because foundational skills have not been met.
Early Intervention
Any form of intervention at a young age that will counteract or eliminate risk factors that may impact academic success.
National Assessment of  Education Progress, utilizes embedded test questions in state tests to compare state academic achievement.
High-Stakes Testing
Using standardized tests to bring about major consequences or major decisions that impact others such as high school exit exams or  teacher salaries.
No Child Left Behind is the reauthorization of ESEA that governs the federal government’s role in public education.
Adequate yearly progress is a requirement of NCLB . It consists of goals that demonstrate progress toward accountability in school acheivement.
Oregon Assessment of  Knowledge and Skills is a standardized test administered by Oregon to measure student proficiency with state standards.
Formative Assessment
Regular and ongoing assessment that governs teacher decisions and instruction.
Summative Assessment
An assessment that measures student proficieny over a period of time, such as unit goals met, semester grades, or year end promotion.
Individual Education Plan, a legal document that sets in place a student’s special education plan for meeting goals and implementing accommodations and modifications.
Cognitive Domain
A set of cognitive abilities listed under Bloom’s Taxanomy chart, abilities range in complexity from simple to advance.
Affective Domain
Another area of Bloom’s Taxanomy that focuses on attitudes and beliefs. These attitues and beliefs are imbedded in society and refer to honesty, respect, and so on.
Pyschomotor Domain
The third area of Bloom’s Taxanomy, refers to an indivual’s pyschomotor abilites such as gross and fine motors skills, perception, visual coordination and so on.