Assessment: Past, Present and Future


My past misconception: Assessment = Grades. That’s how I looked at assessment before I took EDS 113.

Again, I feel sad and happy. Sad because I know that many teachers out there don’t fully understand what assessment is; happy because I know there’s hope for our educational system. I am more convinced that current teachers and teachers to-be should go through the teacher-education program, get this course alongside the basic Professional Teaching Certification, and continue to learn through seminars, training, and workshops, or even through online learning. (If I may mention, studying through UPOU made me more aware of the vast, rich, and useful information we can get from trusted educational sites of the internet; merely browsing through the educational websites will help teachers learn more.)

I once thought I was ready to teach, that I was competent enough, but ugh, while studying this course, I realized I definitely had a lot of limitations. For one, I was one of those who didn’t fully understand what assessments are for. Thanks to EDS 113, this has changed.

What have I learned from this course? Today, I am endowed with new learning.:)

  • Assessment is not all about grades.
  • Assessment definitely helps improve teaching and learning!
  • Assessment is the process of getting information about what and how the students learn, and using this information to guide instruction and boost learning.
  • Assessment gives feedback to teachers and students that help them both adjust their teaching and learning strategies to achieve learning goals.
  • Assessment should be aligned with goals/objectives, curriculum/instruction, and outcomes, so learning can be maximized.
  • Assessment helps us to PLAN (what do I want my students to learn?); to DO (How do I help them learn effectively?); to CHECK (Have we achieved goals and outcomes?), and to ACT (How do I use the information I gathered? What adjustments and refinements should I do?). This is the assessment cycle that helps continuously improve the teaching-learning process; this is the assessment cycle that makes assessment useful for its intended purposes: the assessment FOR learning, the assessment AS learning, and the assessment OF learning.

The three main purposes of assessment:

  • Assessment FOR learning is an ongoing process that gauges and monitors student learning in order to inform instruction, as well as help students monitor and manage their own learning. It guides both teachers and students on what wise steps to take next. Formative assessments serve the purpose of assessment FOR learning.
  • Assessment AS learning is also an ongoing process that helps the students self-reflect on their learning, know their weaknesses and strengths, adjust their learning strategies, correct past errors, plan next best steps, and become independent, self-directed, metacognitive, and successful learners. Formative assessments, like self and peer assessments, serve the purpose of assessment AS learning.
  • Assessment OF learning measures the students’ competency; certifies learning; and provides evidence if program goals and objectives have been met and outcomes have been achieved. Summative assessments serve the purpose of assessment OF learning.

There are different types of assessment:

  • Formal assessment is the systematic, well planned data-based assessment that evaluates student learning. Formal assessment determines the students’ proficiency or mastery of the content, and can be used for comparisons relative to certain standards, or relative to other students’ performances.
  • Informal assessment is the casual/spontaneous content-based and performance-based form of assessment that measures the students’ performance and learning progress. Informal assessment is incorporated in the day-to-day classroom activities.
  • Formative assessment gives continuous feedback about students’ learning that informs instruction and helps students successfully manage their own learning; it guides both teachers and students about their next wise steps. Formative assessment occurs all throughout instruction.
  • Summative assessment certifies learning; it measures what the students have learned. Summative assessment data can be used to gauge students’ competency; assign grades; rank the students; and compare students’ performances vs. certain standards or vs. other students’ performances. Summative assessment is given after instruction.
  • Traditional assessment refers to customary method of measuring the students’ knowledge and skills, usually through standardized pen and paper tests.
  • Authentic assessment is the process of gauging the students’ learning by asking them to perform real-life tasks and meaningfully apply what they have learned.
  • Peer and self-assessments involve students taking responsibility of assessing their peer’s work and their own against a set of standards/criteria/rubric. They help students become reflective of their own learning and empower them to be more responsible in successfully directing and managing their own learning.
  • Differentiated assessment is the method by which teachers adjust and match assessment with the varied profiles, needs, and preferences of diverse students in order to bridge individual learning gaps, and meet the students’ individual learning needs.
  • Each type of assessment has its strengths and weaknesses, but each type can definitely contribute to the main goal of assessment, that is, to improve teaching and learning. It is best to employ a balance of each type of assessment in our classrooms.
  • No single assessment can fully measure the students’ learning progress and achievements. Wisely combining multiple types of assessment, and using the information gathered from all these assessments appropriately can help achieve all three purposes of assessment: the assessment OF, FOR and AS learning.
  • Giving feedback is valuable. Feedback should be timely, prompt, efficient, constructive, focused, consequential, and always supportive of learning.
  • Providing clear, well-defined rubrics (scoring criteria) helps the students to plan, strategize, and maneuver their work towards successfully meeting the prescribed criteria, and come up with excellent work or performance.
  • Teachers must be keen in constructing good and effective assessment items. The Table of Specifications is one of the tools that can guide them in carefully and systematically designing a test.

How can I effectively assess my students in the future?

  • I will be a reflective teacher, and always think of how I can help my students learn best; I will consider my students’ welfare before my own.
  • I will align my assessment with my learning goals, outcomes and instruction.
  • I will use assessment not only to assign grades, but to learn whether my students have successfully learned the targeted learning outcomes; if my teaching is effective; if misconceptions have been corrected, learning gaps have been bridged, and learning needs have been met; if programs are successful; and if my students are enjoying learning.
  • I will match my assessment with my students’ readiness, profile, needs, and preferences; I will adjust my teaching accordingly.
  • I will Plan, Do, Check and Act!
  • I will use a mix or a balance of each type of assessment in my classroom. I’ll take advantage of the assessment’s strengths and apply interventions to balance or neutralize the weaknesses.
  • I will integrate my assessments with many rich learning opportunities. I will employ a few formal traditional assessments, and complement it with plenty of fun yet effective informal authentic assessments. I will ensure that these informal authentic assessments are valid, reliable and properly guided by rubrics and standards. I will make sure that traditional assessments are carefully crafted to tap my students’ higher level of thinking skills.
  • I will use assessments to tap my students’ low and high level cognitive skills: knowledge, comprehension, synthesis, application, and evaluation.
  • I will differentiate my instruction and assessments according to my students’ individual needs, bridge the learning gaps, and make proper interventions and accommodations.
  • I will empower my students to self-reflect, think critically, manage their own learning, and become the self-directed, metacognitive, independent and successful learners that they ought to be.
  • I will provide parents timely feedback about their children’s performances and partner with them in helping their children excel.
  • I will partner with my students and help them achieve their learning goals. We shall join forces to produce powerful learning outcomes!
  • I will share lessons-learned and best practices with my colleagues and help each other in improving our craft.
  • I will use assessment data to really improve teaching and learning, and to help refine educational programs.
  • I will always reflect about my teaching styles, instructional strategies, and assessment methods, and continuously ask myself…

Daisy, how else can you help in improving teaching and learning?

(Thanks, Teacher Malou, for another rich learning experience. 🙂 Admittedly, finishing the course was a great challenge, but then again, it was all worthwhile!

Cheers to all my classmates, too!  🙂

…Daisy, here, more empowered to teach because of EDS 103 and 113! (hmm, I hope, haha) 🙂

How Meaningful Have Grades Been?


I am not a fan of grades. I hate it when people judge students because of their grades. I was, somehow, forced as a student to be an achiever (‘though I don’t have any regrets on that). Everyone in the family was an achiever, and so I felt I had to be one, too. It’s awesome to get good grades and receive recognition, but later in life, I realized that there are many things in life that matter more.

The joy of learning, despite grades, is one of them.

Giving your best, not because of grades, but because you want to give back only the best to the One who blessed you with the talent – is another one.

Grades pressure students to perform well; it reduces the fun of learning.

Does it really motivate one to learn? Does it really push one to give his/her best? Well, maybe. But then, sometimes it defeats the purpose of learning; it confines the student to become grade-conscious and limits the fun of learning. It just burdens one to perform well in order not to fail (not to fail in meeting the grade requirement; not to fail in being promoted to the next year level; not to fail to please parents; not to fail to meet expectations of others, not to fail…).

Learning should not be like this. Learning should be fun. Students must be intrinsically motivated to learn. Learning should make us joyfully wise. Learning should make us climb mountains and help us achieve our life goals. Learning should help us soar high. We should make our students and our children realize that the purpose of learning is not merely to get good grades.

Grades give so much pressure on students. My big question is: Can we do away with grades? If we do, how can we properly assess our students? Can we just give detailed descriptive feedback to each student instead of the alpha-numeric grades? I know, it may be too taxing for teachers, difficult to standardize, and difficult to interpret. Alpha-numeric grades are easier to assign, easier to interpret, and easier to compare. I’m sure the educational authorities have good reasons for keeping grades as a big part of the assessment process.

What’s the meaning of grades? It’s good that some modern teachers do explain how they come up with grades. They send you the bases of their grading system, though I guess, there are only a few of them. Based on my personal experience, grades give me a chance to know my children’s academic standing, to know if they are doing well in their academics. Knowing how they really perform in school, understanding their strengths and weaknesses, and knowing their true learning progress are not actually reflected on the report card; those information are provided by getting feedback from my children and their teachers, and by doing my own assignment as a parent, that is, by partnering with teachers in monitoring my kids’ learning. Grades are just not enough, it needs to be complemented by other forms of assessment.


images (6)

I don’t like teachers who don’t give feedback, then give low grades. I find it so unfair that teachers give poor evaluation marks when they did not do their job of giving feedback or did not give students the chance to improve their performance. That is why Giving Feedback, for me, is one of the most important aspects in effectively communicating students’ progress.

I send my children to school so they can learn best. I believe, as a parent, I am entitled to know what happens in the classroom and how I can help my children to excel. Without the teacher’s feedback, I’m lost. As a parent and as a student, I value feedback. As a future teacher, giving feedback is one of the top things in assessment that I will focus on.


To help students achieve their goals and maximize their learning potentials, teachers should provide feedback that is:

Constructive.  It should always be encouraging, never judgmental or discouraging. It should build up the student’s confidence that he/she is capable of correcting mistakes and improving performance. The teachers must be able to show the problem-areas where the students must improve, and suggest specific ways on how the students can do this. Apply the sandwich principle: Give positive- negative-positive comments.

Timely. How can it be useful when the correct timing has lapsed? Feedback should always be timely, when students still have the time to act on it; mend what needs to be mended and boost performance level to the max.

Prompt: Feedback should be given during the time that students’ interest is still high, when post activity questions, feelings and concerns are still at their peak. Usually, after an exam or a performance test, the students are eager to know how they fared in the assessment, what their mistakes are, what their excellent points are, what their scores are, etc. If feedback is given right away or the soonest possible time, the effect is maximized. The students are still on it, and they will remember and act on the feedback in order to perform better next time. On the other hand, if feedback is given too late, students may already lose interest as they may be busy already with current things, and the feedback becomes useless.

Supportive to Learning. Teachers must clarify to students where they really are in their learning, and help them bridge any learning gaps.

Focused.  It must be clear that the focus of assessment is the achievement of the student, not the student.

Consequential. Students must be encouraged to act on feedback, and use it to self-reflect and accordingly plan their learning strategies to address concerns indicated in the feedback.

Fostering Independence. Feedback must be able to help the students become more self-directed, independent learners.

Efficient. Feedback and assessment strategies need to be feasible/doable/realistic. Simple yet effective strategies may be employed (consultations between students and teachers; returning of exams and reviewing of answers; returning of assessment products with specific comments, etc.) Considering all factors (resources, time, student and teacher factors), feedback should be done in a manner most beneficial to all.


University of Exeter. (n.d.). Marking and giving feedback. Retrieved from

Differentiated Assessment

why we differentiated pic 1

Differentiated assessment is the way by which teachers modify and match assessment with the varied characteristics/profiles of students in order to meet the students’ individual needs, thereby enhancing their learning and boosting their ability to show what they have learned. Students differ in their previous learning experiences, readiness, learning styles, preferences, academic standing, abilities, strengths and weaknesses, culture, race, and backgrounds.

Teachers use differentiated assessment to match and respond to the varying learning needs of diverse students in a classroom.

By differentiating assessments, teachers help diverse students to successfully demonstrate their competencies in particular ways that are fitting and effective for them. By providing various assessment methods/activities appropriate for particular types of students, the teachers are able to meet the students’ individual needs, thereby helping them to be successful in their learning.

Designing various assessments apt for specific groups of learners provides more opportunities for students to effectively demonstrate what they have learned.

Differentiated assessments also guide teachers on how they can differentiate, modify and improve instruction.

Differentiated assessments can be done by designing and providing various assessment methods and activities that are appropriate for each type of students such that they can effectively learn and demonstrate what they have learned. Differentiated assessments can be done by providing them various options and opportunities to show their learning and proficiency. From a list of Zach Burrus, Dave Messer and Judith Dodge, here are some ways of differentiating assessments:

  • Designing tiered activities
  • Scaffolding struggling learners
  • Challenging advanced learners with more mid-stimulating activities
  • Adjusting questions
  • Compacting
  • Flexible grouping
  • Flexible assignments and tasks based on students’ learning styles
  • Learning contracts
  • Asking students to do:
    • Role playing
    • Unit collage
    • Individual projects
    • Visual presentations
    • Oral presentations
    • Written presentations
    • Summaries and reflections
    • Lists, charts and graphic organizers
    • Group/collaborative activities
    • Comic books
    • Raps/songs/dances/other performances


BOSTES. (n.d.). Diffrentiated assessment. Retrieved from

Burrus, Z. & Messer, D. (n.d.). Differentiation and assessment. Retrieved from

Dodge, J. (2009). 25 Quick formative assessments for a differentiated classroom. Retrieved from

Kinzie, C.L. & Markovchick, K (n.d.). Comparing traditional and differentiated classrooms. Retrieved from

Teaching as Leadership. (n.d.) P-4: Differentiate your plans to fit your students. Retrieved from

More examples of differentiated strategies, taken from the list of Chapman, Gregory and King:

Using/providing assessment tools before instruction like:

  • Ponder and Pass
  • Signal and Action Response
  • Take a Stand
  • Knowledge Base Corners or Squaring Off
  • Content Boxes
  • Content Surveys
  • Personal Surveys and Inventories
  • Brainstorming
  • Color Clusters
  • Gallimaufry Gathering
  • ELO (Evening Learning Opportunities)
  • Pretests
  • Standardized Testing Data
  • Boxing
  • Yes / No Cards
  • Graffiti Facts
  • Four-Corner Pre-Assessment

Using/providing assessment tools during instruction like:

  • Observation
  • Anecdotal Assessment
  • Clipboard Stickies
  • Card Cruising
  • Know it! Show it!
  • Response Cards
  • High Five
  • A Bump in the Road
  • Color-Coding
  • Sketches From the Mind
  • Analyzing Student Notes
  • Checkpoint Tests
  • Daily Grades
  • Thumb It
  • Face the Fact
  • Reaching for the Top
  • Speedometer Reading

Using/providing assessment tools after instruction like:

  • Effective Questioning: open-ended and reflection questions
  • Post-Sharing Celebrations: wrap-around, carousel gala and rhythmic fan-fare
  • Likert Scales to Assess Learning, Attitude, and Progress
  • Rubrics
  • Checklists
  • Design Delights
  • Assessing With Journals
  • Jazzy Journal Assessment
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Prompts for Assessment
  • Assessing With a Blank Page
  • Performance Assessment
  • Teacher-Made Tests (true-false, multiple choice, fill in the blank, open-ended questions, performance tests, skills tests, problem based)
  • Portfolios
  • Conversation Circles
  • Donut

Using/providing summative assessment tools like:

  •  Assessment Cubing
  • Choice Boards
  • Stations, Centers, and Learning Zones: Exploratory Stations and Structured Stations


Wikihome (n.d.). Differentiated instructional strategies. Retrieved from

Traditional vs. Differentiated Assessment



Traditional vs. Differentiated Assessment

Students are diverse and learn differently. Giving students choices and tailoring assessments according to their needs and preferences are more effective in enhancing their learning and in measuring their knowledge and abilities. Compared to traditional assessment, I believe that differentiated assessment is a better mode in helping students learn best and demonstrate best what they have learned. However, it is still best to combine different types of assessment (e.g., traditional and differentiated) to achieve the best results.

Traditional Assessment (TA) Differentiated Assessment (DA)
TA is most commonly used at the end of instruction; summative; serves as assessment of learning, to check who understood the lesson and who did not. DA continuously occurs before, during and after instruction; formative; serves as assessment for learning, to adjust instruction according to the profiles and needs of the diverse students.
Few assessment options, tools, and activities are provided. Several assessment options, tools, and activities are provided.
TA focuses on a single form of intelligence. DA focuses on multiple forms of intelligence.
Student differences and varied needs are not considered in designing assessment. Student differences and varied needs are analyzed and considered in designing assessment.
Students’ interests and learning preferences are immaterial or rarely tapped. Students’ interests and learning preferences are tapped.
Curriculum guides instruction. Students’ characteristics/profiles and learning needs guide instruction.
Time is definite, not flexible. Time is flexible.
Single material is provided. Various materials are provided.
There is a single interpretation of answers and ideas; one correct answer. There are various interpretations of answers and ideas; varied perspectives, many possible correct answers or many ways to arrive at the correct answer.
The teacher defines criteria for grading and ascribes grades to students. The students participate in self and peer assessments and contribute in crafting assessment criteria.
Students are oftentimes assessed using a single assessment. Students are assessed using multiple assessments, in varied ways.
The teacher directs. The teacher facilitates.
TA tests and enriches the students’ knowledge and comprehension (based on Bloom’s Taxonomy). DA tests and enriches the students’ knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation (based on Bloom’s Taxonomy).


BOSTES. (n.d.). Diffrentiated assessment. Retrieved from

Burrus, Z. & Messer, D. (n.d.). Differentiation and assessment. Retrieved from

Dodge, J. (2009). 25 Quick formative assessments for a differentiated classroom. Retrieved from

Kinzie, C.L. & Markovchick, K (n.d.). Comparing traditional and differentiated classrooms. Retrieved from

Teaching as Leadership. (n.d.) P-4: Differentiate your plans to fit your students. Retrieved from

Peer and Self-Assessments

Girls Conferencing

Peer and self-assessments involve students taking responsibility of assessing their peer’s work and their own against a set of standards/criteria/rubric.

  Self-assessment Peer Assessment
Why use self- and peer assessment?
  • To encourage students to self-reflect and manage their own learning
  • To help students become more responsible, self-directed and metacognitive learners
  • To help students become intellectually independent; to help them understand the purpose of their learning and understand what they need to do to achieve their goals
  • To help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and plan for improvement; to help students objectively accept and correct their mistakes
  • To instill honesty and integrity
  • To help teachers understand their students more, and provide feedback consequently
  • To help teachers see how the students perceive their own learning, and help teachers adjust instruction accordingly
  • To help teachers identify learning gaps, and bridge the gaps immediately
  • To encourage deep-learning; to engage students; to motivate students to meet set standards
  • To encourage students to understand and take ownership of the assessment criteria
  • To teach students life-long assessment skills
  • To help students become reflective of their own learning
  • To empower students to be more responsible in directing and managing their own learning
  • To promote fair judgment and critical thinking when evaluating work of co-learners
  • To motivate students to learn with others, and from others
  • To encourage deep-learning; to motivate students to be more engaged
  • To develop collaboration, trust and inter-personal skills
  • To teach students sound assessment skills ; to develop in them the “eyes” for true quality work
  • To be able to give and receive feedback on each other’s quality of work
  • To encourage students to understand and take ownership of the assessment criteria
  • To deepen the students’ understanding of the assessment criteria, and make them realize how they can improve next time



When is it good to use these kinds of assessment? in formative assessments (formal, informal, traditional, authentic), but can also be used for summative assessments

  • performance based assessments
  • oral presentations (debates, reports)
  • written presentations (essays, papers)


in formative assessments (formal, informal, traditional, authentic), but can also be used for summative assessments

  • group works
  • pair works
  • class projects
What are the major advantages, disadvantages, and challenges in the design and administration of self- and peer assessment assessments?
Self-assessment Peer Assessment
  • engages students more in the learning process
  • makes students more reflective; helps them develop critical thinking and metacognitive skills; empowers students to manage their own learning
  • helps students identify their strengths and weaknesses and targets problem areas for improvement; encourages students to correct themselves
  • provides opportunity for students to improve their performance by understanding themselves more
  • aids the teachers in their own assessment by understanding their students more
  • engages students more in the learning process
  • empowers the students to evaluate the work of their peers and reflect on their own work
  • develops critical thinking and reflective skills as well as interpersonal skills
  • deepens the students’ understanding of the assessment criteria and makes them realize how they can improve next time
  • fosters accountability and fairness
  • discourages “free rides”
  • promotes collaboration and good teamwork
  • Subjective. Students may give inaccurate self-judgments. There’s a risk that students may either be self-righteous or self-defeatist. Either they overestimate or underestimate their performances.
  • Time consuming; additional task for students


  • Prone to biases. Personal factors like friendships may unfairly affect assessment.
  • Peer pact. Classmates may just agree to give high marks to all, regardless of quality of work.
  • Time consuming; additional task for students; can be stressful for others
  • It can be hard to instill open-mindedness among students, to be honest with self-critique, to graciously accept, learn and correct own mistakes that will lead to a much improved output.
  • There may be inaccuracies and inconsistencies between results of self- assessment and teachers’ assessment; self-assessment and peer assessment.
  • Students may find it unimportant if it will not, after all, affect their grades.
  • It is a challenge to translate negative feedback or criticisms to positive actions that will lead to improved output. Negative criticisms may create tensions or may trigger ill feelings among classmates.
  • It can be difficult for students to give fair, objective, and sound judgment and assessment independent of friendships/affiliations or any personal factors, devoid of any biases.


(Personal thought: Partly because of our culture, we sometimes have the tendency to be overly considerate and give good marks to undeserving classmates. On the other hand, because of “crab mentality,” or sometimes, “competition,” there are a few who give bad marks to supposedly deserving classmates. Objective sound assessment is sacrificed.)



NCLRC. (2014). Peer and self-assessment. Retrieved from

UNSW. (2015). Student peer assessment. Retrieved from

UNSW. (2015). Student self-assessment. Retrieved from




What Makes a Good Assessment?


 To ensure that formal, summative and traditional assessments as well as informal-formative and alternative assessments are good and effective assessments, they need to:

  • be well-aligned with learning objectives and outcomes
  • be valid (accurate; should measure what it’s supposed to measure)
  • be reliable (consistent)
  • be fair; free from any biases and distortions
  • be guided by clearly defined rubrics/criteria/standards
  • enable students and teachers to provide and use feedback effectively, reflect and improve their teaching and learning
  • enable students to successfully demonstrate what they have learned
  • effectively measure whether or not the students have learned the content

Formal summative and traditional assessments can be made more effective when questions are crafted carefully in a way that will tap not only the low level cognitive skills, but the higher level ones too. Carefully design tests that will help students to think more deeply, reason, solve problems, analyze, synthesize, apply and evaluate knowledge.

Alternative assessments can be made more reliable, valid and objective by setting clear and well-defined criteria and rubrics when planning and designing alternative assessment strategies. There is also a need to standardize these alternative assessments.

Alternative and traditional assessments both have their advantages and disadvantages. Since no single assessment can fully measure the students’ learning progress and proficiency, I believe it is better to have a balance between traditional and alternative forms of assessment, that is, to complement each other and achieve best results.  If I have a say, I’ll make traditional assessments more fun and flexible, and make alternative assessments more reliable, valid, and truly guided by standards and criteria.


Dikli, S. (2003). Assessment at a distance: Traditional vs. alternative assessments. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 2(3) Article 2 [PDF document]. Retrieved from

Kwako.  A brief summary of traditional and alternative assessment. Retrieved from

Traditional vs. Authentic Assessment. (2012). Retrieved from

Wiggins, G. (1990). The case for authentic assessment. Retrieved from

Traditional vs. Authentic Assessment



Traditional assessments refer to conventional methods of testing, usually standardized and use pen and paper with multiple-choice, true or false or matching type test items.

Authentic assessments refer to assessments wherein students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of what they have learned.

To better compare traditional vs. alternative assessments, here’s a table I prepared:

Traditional Assessment Authentic Assessment
  • Purpose: to evaluate if the students have learned the content; to determine whether or not the students are successful in acquiring knowledge; to ascribe a grade for them; to rank and compare them against standards or other learners
  • Purpose: to measure students’ proficiency by asking them to perform real life-tasks; to provide students many avenues to learn and demonstrate best what they have learned; to guide instruction; to provide feedback and help students manage their own learning; to also evaluate students’ competency
  • Provides teachers a snapshot of what the students know
  • Provides teachers a more complete picture of what the students know and what they can do with what they know
  • Measures students’ knowledge of the content
  • Measures students’ ability to apply knowledge of the content in real life situations; ability to use/apply what they have learned in meaningful ways
  • Requires students to demonstrate knowledge by selecting a response/giving correct answers; usually tests students’ proficiency through paper and pencil tests
  • Students are asked to choose an answer from a set of questions (True or False; multiple choice) to test knowledge of what has been taught.
  • Requires students to demonstrate proficiency by performing relevant tasks showing application of what has been learned
  • Provides indirect evidence of learning
  • Provides direct evidence of learning/competency; direct demonstration of knowledge and skills by performing relevant tasks
  • Requires students to practice cognitive ability to recall/recognize/reconstruct body of knowledge that has been taught
  • Provides opportunities for students to construct meaning/new knowledge out of what has been taught
  • Tests and strengthens the students’ ability to recall/recognize and comprehend content, but does not reveal the students’ true progress of what they can do with the knowledge they acquired. Only the students’ lower level of thinking skills, (knowledge and comprehension), are tapped.


  • Tests and strengthens the students’ ability to reason and analyze, synthesize, and apply knowledge acquired; Students’ higher level of cognitive skills (from knowledge and comprehension to analysis, synthesis, application, and evaluation) are tapped in multiple ways.


  • Hides the test
  • Teaches the test
  • Teachers serve as evaluators and students as the evaluatees: teacher-structured
  • Involves and engages the students in the teaching, learning and assessment process: student structured
  • Assessment is separated from teaching and learning. Test usually comes after instruction to evaluate if the students have successfully learned the content.
  • Assessment is integrated with instruction. Assessment activities happen all throughout instruction to help students improve their learning and help teachers improve their teaching.
  • Provides limited ways for students to demonstrate what they have learned
  • Provides multiple avenues for students to demonstrate best what they have learned
  • Rigid and fixed
  • Flexible and provides multiple acceptable ways of constructing products or performance as evidence of learning
  • Standardized; valid and reliable
  • Needs well defined criteria/rubrics and standards to achieve reliability and validity
  • Curriculum drives assessment.
  • Assessment drives curriculum and instruction.

  • True or False; multiple choice tests
  • standardized tests
  • achievement tests
  • intelligence tests
  • aptitude tests



  • demonstrations
  • hands-on experiments
  • computer simulations
  • portfolios
  • projects
  • multi-media presentations
  • role plays
  • recitals
  • stage plays
  • exhibits


Advantages of Traditional Assessment Over Authentic Assessment:

Traditional assessments do have advantages over authentic assessments:

Traditional Assessment Authentic Assessment
Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Easy to score; Teachers can evaluate students more quickly and easily.
  • Harder to evaluate
  • Less time and easier to prepare; easy to administer
  • Time consuming; labor intensive
  • Sometimes, time and effort spent exceed the benefits.
  • Objective, reliable and valid
  • Susceptible to unfairness, subjectivity, lacking objectivity, reliability, and validity if not properly guided by well-defined/clear criteria or rubrics/standards
  • Economical
  • Less economical

Advantages of Authentic Assessment Over Traditional Assessment

On the other hand, here are the advantages of authentic assessment over the traditional assessment:

Traditional Assessment

Authentic Assessment

Disadvantages: Advantages:
  • Provides teachers with just a snapshot of what the students have truly learned
  • Provides teachers with the true picture of how and where their students are in their learning; gives more information about their students’ strengths, weaknesses, needs and preferences that aid them in adjusting instruction towards enhanced teaching and learning
  • Provides students limited options to demonstrate what they have learned, usually limited to pencil and paper tests
  • Provides students many alternatives/ways to demonstrate best what they have learned; offers a wide array of interesting and challenging assessment activities
  • Assessment is separate from instruction.
  • Assessment is integrated with instruction.
  • Reveals and strengthens only the students’ low level cognitive skills: knowledge and comprehension
  • Reveals and enriches the students’ high level cognitive skills: from knowledge and comprehension to analysis, synthesis, application and evaluation
  • Assesses only the lower level thinking/cognitive skills: focuses only on the students’ ability to memorize and recall information
  • Enhances students’ ability to apply skills and knowledge to real lie situations; taps high order cognitive and problem solving skills
  • Hides the test
  • Teaches the test
  • Teacher-structured: teachers direct and act as evaluators; students merely answer the assessment tool.
  • Student-structured: students are more engaged in their learning; assessment results guide instruction
  • Involves students working alone; promotes competitiveness
  • Oftentimes involves students working in groups hence promotes team work, collaborative and interpersonal skills
  • Invokes feelings of anxiety detrimental to learning
  • Reduces anxiety and creates a more relaxed happy atmosphere that boosts learning
  • Time is fixed and limited; students are time-pressured to finish the test.
  • Time is flexible.
  • Focuses on one form of intelligence




  • Focuses on the growth of the learner;
  • Learners express their understanding of the learning content using their preferred multiple forms of intelligences.
  • Provides parents and community with more observable products, proofs of the students’ learning which motivate them to support their kids’ learning more



Assessment FOR Learning:

Informal-formative-alternative assessments can best serve the purpose of assessment FOR learning as they continuously inform and guide instruction, and help students become better learners. Assessments are integrated with instruction and help teachers monitor students’ progress, identify their learning needs and adjust their instruction accordingly. They also give feedback to students and help them become self-directed, metacognitive and successful learners.

Assessment AS Learning:

Informal-formative-alternative assessments can also very well serve the purposes of assessment OF and AS learning. There are various informal-formative-alternative assessment strategies (e.g. journals, self and peer assessments) that can help students become self-reflective and be good managers of their own learning, making adjustments and developing more effective learning strategies, hence serving the purpose of assessment AS learning.

Assessment OF Learning:

At the same time, there are also various informal-formative-alternative assessments (recitals, visual and oral presentations, etc.) that can give a picture of what the students have actually learned after instruction, providing evidence of learning and certifying competency, hence serving the purpose of assessment OF learning.

Formal-summative-traditional assessments measure and strengthen the students’ cognitive abilities to recall/memorize, comprehend and reconstruct knowledge, addressing the lower level cognitive skills (from knowledge to comprehension), while the informal-formative-alternative assessments measure and strengthen the students’ higher level of cognitive skills, from knowledge and comprehension to analysis,  synthesis, application and evaluation of what they have learned.


Dikli, S. (2003). Assessment at a distance: Traditional vs. alternative assessments. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 2(3) Article 2 [PDF document]. Retrieved from

Kwako.  A brief summary of traditional and alternative assessment. Retrieved from

Traditional vs. Authentic Assessment. (2012). Retrieved from

Wiggins, G. (1990). The case for authentic assessment. Retrieved from





Growing Support for Informal-Formative-Alternative Assessments

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There’s a growing support for informal, formative and alternative assessments because of the following reasons:

  • Informal-formative-alternative assessments are more responsive to the learning needs and preferences of students, thereby helping them to become better learners.
  • They measure not only the students’ knowledge of the content/discipline, but also the students’ ability to meaningfully apply this knowledge in real life situations.
  • They provide opportunities for students to demonstrate best what they have learned by performing relevant tasks, reflecting acquired knowledge and skills.
  • They provide direct evidence of learning and competency. They provide easily observable evidences of learning.
  • They don’t just provide opportunities to recall/reconstruct knowledge, but more importantly, to construct new meaningful knowledge out of what has been taught.
  • They don’t hide the test, but rather teach the test, to help students enhance their performances.
  • They involve and engage students in the teaching-learning-assessment process.
  • Assessment is integrated with instruction. Assessment activities happen all throughout instruction to help students improve their learning and help teachers improve their teaching.
  • They provide multiple avenues for students to demonstrate best what they have learned.
  • They are not rigid, but rather flexible, and give students the luxury to choose the assessment mode suited for them, which can help them demonstrate best what they know and what they can do with what they know.
  • They don’t just evaluate and monitor students’ progress and performance; they help improve teaching and learning!



Effect of Assessment on the Students’ Attitudes towards Learning



These are based on my personal observations about how my own kids and their classmates react to different types of assessment.

Most students hate tests, but the truth is, the only time they really study is when there’s a fast approaching test. They cram, they study, and I guess, the result is superficial learning. Low level cognitive skills (knowledge/comprehension/recall) are tapped, but information, after the exam, usually evaporates.

What I’m sure of – is that students hate the fact that they are often judged based on their grades, and hence they study to get good grades, to fulfill school requirements, to please parents, to pass and be promoted to the next grade or year level. If these factors comprise the motivation to go to school, if assessments will solely or mostly be used for assigning grades, then we’ll have unhappy unmotivated students.

What makes the students want to go to school or attend classes? Well, aside from seeing friends and crushes as top reasons, I see them enjoy classes with teachers who give interesting, challenging, and fun instructional/assessment activities (mostly informal-formative-alternative assessments like role plays, stage plays, experiments, field work, etc.).  If the teacher can relate well with students, understand how they are in their learning, and adjust his/her teaching according to what they appreciate, the kids are motivated more to learn and demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways.

Just last night, I saw a Facebook post from my son’s Statistics teacher, asking his students if they think they should continue doing the assessment game they did the previous school year. The answer from all students was a resounding “Yes.” Teachers can now use social media to get feedback from students. Teachers who consider their students’ needs and preferences, and adjust their methods of teaching accordingly produce happy motivated students – willing to learn best what they are supposed to learn. Even if the content is hard (like higher Mathematics), if the teacher is supportive, and employs appropriate instructional and assessment activities suited for his/her students, the kids give their best effort to succeed in learning.

I also notice that assessment and instructional activities that are directly relevant to students also attract students to learning; those that they think are irrelevant are the lessons they ignore most.

Last school year, some of my son’s classmates felt that Social Science’s World History was irrelevant, so, they chose to ignore it, or they were forced to just comply with the subject requirements. Then the original teacher took a leave and was replaced by a new teacher who made World History relevant and interesting for the students. As the new teacher employed appropriate and fun assessment activities, incorporated with instruction, I heard a lot of good feedback from my son and his classmates. As expected, students started to participate in class activities and started to love World History! Not only that, students started to love their new teacher! (This truly happened in a Grade 8 class.)

It’s obvious that when activities are interesting and fun, especially when it involves collaborative work (like class projects, group presentations, stage plays, experiments and other authentic activities), students need not be prompted to do what they need to do. They comply with requirements eagerly, practice and give their best performance. If they like what the teacher is asking them to do, they will do it enthusiastically, and most likely produce a good output.

Students tend to enjoy most of the informal, formative and alternative assessments and get anxious about the high stakes formal, traditional and summative tests that oftentimes define who they are as students. However, they are aware that they need all these assessments for their own improvement.

 The bottom line, I guess, is that our students need all these types of assessments, and that teachers should just make learning and assessment as enjoyable and as interesting as possible.