If assessment is to help students learn, then it is important to understand the different purposes served by diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment.
Diagnostic Assessment occurs at or near the beginning of a unit when new skills and concepts are being introduced and
• informs you about what students already know and can do before instruction begins
• informs you about what students are unfamiliar with or unable to do and, therefore, helps you make appropriate instructional decisions
• should never count toward a report card grade
Formative Assessment provides the most useful information to students to help them learn and
• directs students toward quality work (e.g., through the use of models or the student’s work)
• is most helpful when it takes the form of feedback to students about what they are doing well and what they need to do to improve
• provides some of the data for report card grades
Summative Assessment occurs at or near the end of a unit, term, or course and
• provides opportunities for students to synthesize their knowledge and skills in more complex ways
• represents the essential learning from a unit
• counts toward report card grades
• is more accurately referred to as summative evaluation since it will be judged against provincial standards
In Ontario, the curriculum documents contain two types of standards: content standards and performance standards. The curriculum expectations are content standards. They prescribe the knowledge and skills that students are expected to acquire. The Achievement Chart outlines the performance standards that are to be used to evaluate the quality of student work.
You need to use the curriculum expectations to plan lessons and design strategies and opportunities for assessment. The