Tag Archives: Formal Assessment

Formal and Informal Assessments

Organized and intentional assessments are an indispensable part of planning and assessment tasks. Assessments are also a facet of instruction, such as preparing questions to ask students ahead of time, for promoting engagement or deepening learning. Assessments should vary to produce quantitative (numerical) and qualitative (descriptive) forms of information. For example, comparing correct answers to objective items on pre-assessment (sequence start) and post-assessment (sequence end) results can show whole-class and individual student learning over time.

A key feature of informal (i.e. formative) assessments is they are able to provide ongoing monitoring of student learning. In other words, multiple informal assessments should be included in lessons. A key feature of formal (i.e. summative) assessments is enabling analysis of student learning. Analysis of student learning based on a formal/chosen assessment is conducted using evaluation criteria (such as rubric, checklist, answer key, or other protocol for appraising performance). All assessments should show logical connection to the central focus and learning objectives.

Some example assessments by subject-area follow. Generally, assessments are clearly organized (such as thoughtful application of titles), use a variety of item types, and align with lesson plan goals, learning activities, and evaluation criteria. In addition, many of the examples use pre- and post-assessment to facilitate analysis of student learning.

Elementary literacy assessments, Elementary math assessments, English as Additional Language assessments, English Language Arts assessments, Family and Consumer Science assessments, Health assessments, History Social Studies assessments, Library Specialist assessments, Performing Arts assessments, Physical Education assessments, Secondary mathematics assessments, Secondary Science assessments, Special Education assessments, Visual arts assessments, World Languages assessments


The definition of assessment according to the edTPA model is that it “includes all those activities undertaken by teachers and students that provide information to be used as feedback to modify teaching and learning activities.”

There are many types of assessments. Nowadays, educators often talk about formative and summative assessment. However, in edTPA, assessments are categorized as informal and formal. It is possible to align informal assessment with formative and formal with summative.

Nevertheless, the definitions provided for informal and formal assessment are defined with examples. Informal assessments include questions posed by the teacher or teacher observations of students. Practical methods for conducting observations for assessment include pair-share and think aloud, among others. In addition, any type of prompt presented by the teacher to elicit student response may be labeled as an informal assessment.

Some examples of formal assessment include assignments, quizzes, journal entries, projects, tests, lab reports, and so on.

Generally, the requirements for edTPA include multiple informal assessments across lessons, assessment of students’ prior learning to begin the lesson sequence, assessment of student voice, and a formal assessment summarizing student learning of the lesson sequence. In addition, the formal assessment should include an evaluation criteria, though brief assessment criteria could be presented for each assessment included in the portfolio.

This sample pre- and postassessment with evaluation criteria may help you design your own.