8 Oct 2022


How to Assess Reading for Understanding

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Academic level: University

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Assessment of learning is an important part that educators must conduct to evaluate levels of learning among their students. Teachers can use formative, formal, summative, and informal methods of assessment to evaluate student learning in their classrooms. Moreover, giving assessment to learners is an important part of teaching and learning because it makes it possible for the teacher to evaluate whether they are really teaching the topics they intend to teach to the students. Similarly, assessments help the teachers to evaluate whether the students have learnt the class activities that they were taught (Jabbarifer, 2009) . Assessments also help the teachers to evaluate the levels of understanding and reading abilities of students as they take class activities. Similarly, using assessments is important because it makes it possible for teachers to motivate their students to work hard during class lessons. Educators have various types of assessment that they can use to evaluate learning and teaching activities. Therefore, this paper compares and contrast formal, summative, informal, formative, and standardized assessment and states their importance in evaluating reading among students. 

The table below presents different types of formal, informal, summative, formative assessments.

Types of Assessment  Uses  Examples 


Screening test – beginning test used to assess a child reading abilities 

Progress monitoring – determine whether the students are earning at the expected rate. States whether the student will be able to attain grade level reading abilities by the end of the term. 

Diagnostic test – gives information on students who are responding well in class 

used throughout the school year 

meant to meet varying needs and learning styles 

enables teachers to measure student progress over time 

implemented in a different forms 

Kindergarten Inventory • DIBELS Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) 

Scholastic Reading Inventory 

Running Records Quick Writes 

Student-Teacher Conferences 

informal  Used in daily classrooms 

Class work 


Class reading 


Class activities 

Summative  Used at the end of the term and throughout the year 

Midterm exams 

End term exams 

End of year 

Reading project 

Final recital 

Formal  Used in daily classroom teaching 

Formal oral tests 

Long and short answer tests 

Multiple choice tests 

Problem solving tests 

Observational and monitoring tests 

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Informal assessment are the types of assessments that teachers use in daily classrooms to evaluate progress and the levels of comprehension skills among their students (Greer, 2007) . Informal assessments come in many forms which include written works such as comprehension and numeracy tests. Informal assessment also includes tests, projects, and quizzes among others (Greer, 2007) . Teachers who make use of informal evaluation methods can aim to give their students small tests on a weekly basis to test their levels of understanding of reading and literacy skills. Similarly, teachers can decide to give five minutes reading test to each students every day to evaluate their proficiency levels in reading activities. Informal assessment is important in helping teachers to evaluate real time learning among their students (Jabbarifer, 2009) . Another important thing about formal assessment is that it makes it possible for the teachers to evaluate whether their teaching methods are helping the students to learn the expected activities or not. Thus, it makes it possible for the teachers to make the necessary changes where appropriate as learning continues. 

Unlike informal assessments, summative assessments are the types of assessment that teachers and educators use to evaluate long-term learning goals (Payant, Havier, & Serrano, 2013) . Summative assessment include end of unit or chapter tests, state mandated tests, end of term or semester tests, or end of year tests. These assessments make it possible for the teachers to evaluate a wider area of learning. For example, teachers can evaluate reading skills among students twice per term by giving midterm and end term reading and comprehension exams to the students. Unlike informal assessment that teachers use on daily teaching, summative assessment are used either once or twice during the learning term. 

Therefore, informal assessment is important because it makes it possible for the teacher to identify possible areas of problems and weaknesses and hence make immediate changes (Jabbarifer, 2009) . On the contrary, summative assessment might not make it possible for teachers to make immediate changes because it requires them to cover wider materials before administering the assessment. Moreover, informal assessment makes it possible for the teachers to know whether their teaching methods are effective in promoting students learning as opposed to summative assessment that only evaluate levels of learning after longer durations (Payant, Havier, & Serrano, 2013) . 

Formal assessment is defined as systematic and pre-planned tests that allow the teachers to evaluate how well the students have mastered the learning activities (Gardner & Gardner, 2012) . Formal assessment includes ongoing questions that the teacher asks student as the learning progresses. The use of journals to illustrate students’ levels of understanding as well as homework can also acts as formal assessment. It is clear that both formal and informal assessment makes it possible for the teachers to conduct immediate assessment of student learning as the lesson continues. Formal assessment includes observations that happen as the teacher teaches. 

Screening is another form of formal assessment that makes it possible for the teacher to administer tests and questions while the lesson is ongoing and hence the teachers becomes capable of identifying student that are at risk of being left behind during reading and other learning activities (Gardner & Gardner, 2012) . Thus, by using screening as a form of formal assessment, the teacher is able to create effective learning materials that suit the needs of the entire student in class. Thus, just like informal assessment, formal measurements make it possible for the teacher to identify and eradicate the possibility of an occurrence of life ling reading deficits among the children. 

On the other hand, formative assessment is the type of learning evaluation that helps the teacher to gather information about student learning. Teachers use formative assessment to evaluate the learning abilities of individual student in the class. Thus by the end of the unit, the teachers will be able to know the students who have understood the units and those who struggled through the learning sessions. Formative assessments just like formal and informal assessments are used while the lesson is ongoing. These three methods of assessment make it possible for the teacher to make the necessary adjustment geared towards helping the students to learn effectively. Therefore, teachers can use formative assessment techniques such as observations, questioning and discussion to evaluate the level of reading skills among the students. 

Standardized assessments are the types of evaluation methods that teachers use to show proof of the units or subjects that the students have learnt (Bertram & Pascal, 2002) . Just like summative assessment, standardized test require the teachers to evaluate the learning levels of students after a long period. Standardized test include common core test and end of year or term test to evaluate the units or subjects that the students have learned. Similarly, standardized tests are those tests that are given to all students in the same levels across the states. The tests are similar and can be used to evaluate reading proficiencies of students in similar grade across one state. The tests are usually similar from one school to the next and set in a way that is equal for all the students. Unlike formal and informal tests, summative and standardised assessment does not make it possible for the teacher to evaluate real time progress of the students. 

Reading is an important of any learning in any class and at any grade. Most systems of education aim to measure reading skills of students from as early as grade one onwards. Thus literacy teachers usually use different teaching methods to help their students to gain effective if not proficient reading skills. On the same note, the teachers always have to evaluate the reading skills of their students to evaluate their reading proficiencies. Thus, the teachers can make use of formal, formative, standardised, informal, and summative assessments to evaluate reading levels among their students. Formal and informal assessments make use of techniques that make it possible for the teachers to evaluate real time learning among their students. Summative and standardized assessments are used to evaluate the topics and units that the students learnt during the team. They also show when the student had learnt over a long period. These two forms of assessment are not used during the teaching processes. Formative assessment makes it possible for the teacher to gather important information about reading abilities of the students. Using formative assessment makes it possible for the teacher to monitor reading progress among their students. 


Bertram, T., & Pascal, C. (2002). Early years education: An international perspective. Belmont: Cengage. 

Gardner, J. N., & Gardner, J. (2012). Assessment and Learning. New York: SAGE. 

Greer, D. (2007). Blending Assessment with Instruction: Improving the mathematics performance of fifth-grade students through implementation of research -based lessons and tutorials. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing , 1-24. 

Jabbarifer, T. (2009). The importance of classroom assessment and evaluation in educational system . Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference of Teaching and Learning (ICTL 2009) , 1-9. 

Payant, C., Havier, S., & Serrano, B. (2013). Assessing English in Mexico and Central America. The Companion to Language Assessment

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