Module Introduction

For Your Success

Module 1 provides the general foundation of assessment and the various types of assessments. You will discover a variety of resources presented in this module, so it is important that you carve out time to review the course content, embedded resource links, and interactive activities. You will also want to familiarize yourself with the final Portfolio Project in Module 8.

Throughout this course you will research, compile, and design effective assessment practices that you can use to inform your daily work with students. Your graded Critical Thinking assignments and final Portfolio Project are directly aligned with this work.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Compare the different purposes of assessments.
  2. Categorize the various kinds of assessments used to measure student growth and achievement.
  3. Give examples of assessment terminology.
  4. Collect the different types of assessments used in your classroom, school, and/or state and identify for what purposes they are used.
OTL541K Module 1

Backward Forward

Purpose of Assessment

magnifying glass

The purpose of assessment is to measure student understanding and to provide students with growth-oriented feedback that is directly aligned to the standards or objectives being taught. The assessment results of student learning should be analyzed to adjust educator's future instructional actions in order for 100% of the students to reach proficiency.

Wrong way

Therefore, the purpose of assessment is much more than simply writing a grade on the test, adding a few brief generic comments (e.g., "Great job" or "Keep trying"), and entering the score in the grade book.

Some educators feel that standards-based education and assessment require teaching to the test and removing all creativity from teaching. This is not the case at all; instead, standards should be used as guideposts to measure student progress. Standards can and should be personalized to student interests, used to make learning relevant, to accelerate learning, and to help students to be self-directed learners (Goodwin & Hubbell, 2013).

Forked road wrong/right way

The purpose of standards and the assessment of progress toward proficiency on those standards is to measure student learning on the knowledge and skills that have been determined to be important for students to know and be able to do. Standards should actually provide more time for educators to create opportunities for students to be engaged in the learning in creative and meaningful ways vs. spending time trying to figure out what to teach. In addition, when educators analyze student assessment results, it provides them with an in-depth understanding of student strengths, interests, and error patterns in order to provide explicit feedback to support their continued academic growth toward proficiency on the targeted standard.

compass pointing to career

There are various forms of assessment, each with a unique purpose.  However, all assessments focus on improving student learning and ensuring that all students are post-secondary and workforce ready.

It is crucial that educators learn to analyze the assessment results of student learning and to use that evidence, daily, to guide professional choices and practices.

An increasing number of state educator evaluation systems are holding educators accountable for doing just that by directly linking student achievement, assessed through multiple measures, with educator evaluation systems. See, for example, the following rubrics evaluating teachers and principles respectively.

Colorado Teacher Quality Standards, specifically Standard VI

Colorado Principal Standards, specifically Standard VII

Following is an infographic of the Educational Assessment Landscape:
The Educational Assessment Landscape

Check Your Understand of the various types of educational assessments by completing the following matching activity about when the various types of assessment should be used to assess student learning. All information in the matching activity is directly from The Educational Assessment Landscape (daSantosh, 2013)

Check Your Understanding
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Overview of Assessment


As educators it is important to have a clear understanding of assessment terminology because all decisions related to student learning should be based on an analysis of assessment results. Therefore, it is critical that educators are able to identify and choose the most appropriate type of assessment procedure to use in various situations in order to enhance their teaching and student learning.

Check your understanding of assessment related terminology by reviewing these flip cards. Most of the information from the flip cards is from the sources listed in the references section on this page.

Check Your Understanding
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The Colorado Department of Education (2013) discusses how assessment is used to measure student academic progress and the effectiveness of educators' choices and instructional practices based on what states and districts have identified that students should know and be able to do at the end of their schooling in order to be prepared for college or the workforce.

failure or success

Steps that educators need to take to measure student learning effectively, according to Colorado’s Department of Education (2013), are as follows:

STEP 1: Find out what academic standards are used in your state as the learning goals for students.

STEP 2: Compile a list of assessments that are used by your state, district, school, and grade level team to evaluate student learning or proficiency on the targeted academic standards.


Colorado Department of Education. (2013). Retrieved from

daSantosh (2013, July 7). The educational assessment landscape [Infographic]. Retrieved from

Goodwin, B., & Hubbell, E. (2013). The 12 touchstones of good teaching: A checklist for staying focused every day. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.