Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment in Education: The Purpose of Measuring and Assessing Student Progress (2023)

Sorting through studies and data regarding measurement, evaluation, and assessment in education can feel overwhelming.

For many, administering the tests can be a logistical nightmare without the right tools and a comprehensive assessment system in place. While for others, the connection to improved test scores feels distant if at all related.

We can explain measurement and assessment and tell you which tools can help you use them to your advantage.

We will look at:

  • What they are
  • Why measurement and assessments are vital to strong multi-tiered systems of support; and
  • What types of assessments you can use in your school

Table of Contents

  • Defining the Terms: Measurement and Assessment
  • Understanding Standards and Skills: What Are the Types of Measurement in Assessment?
  • Types of Standards Assessments
  • Types of Skills Assessments
  • The Importance of Assessment, Evaluation, Measurement, and Testing
  • Illuminate Education: Turning Measurement and Assessment Data of the Whole Child Into Actionable Insights

Defining the Terms: Measurement and Assessment

Measurement and assessment are often used interchangeably in education. However, while they are related, they have different meanings and purposes.

Measurement Defined

When we think about measurement, we often assume it means quantifying concrete objects. If you hear ‘measurement,’ you may imagine a ruler or a measuring cup. There is a physical object naming the value, the amount, or the distance of something.

But that fails to fully define measurement in:

    • Teaching
    • Learning process; or
    • Education

When it comes to testing students, measurement is the standard or process students are compared against. Measurement is the yardstick of education.

Measurement is the quantifiable part of the testing process; it is required to gauge the efficacy of programs and the growth of students.

Without measurement, we do not know what to assess.

Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment in Education: The Purpose of Measuring and Assessing Student Progress (1)

Example of Measurement in Education

So, how do you measure student learning progress? Assessments are one of the primary tools for measurement.

We can use the results of assessments, such as standardized test scores, to measure student progress.

Other examples of measurement in education are:

      • Percentile ranking
      • Raw scores
      • Standard scores
      • Completion percentages

All of the data we can collect through assessment and evaluation allows us to measure student progress and determine the level of success that is being reached.

Assessment Defined

Assessment is a process that utilizes a variety of tools that can have both formative and summative qualities.

When we assess a student, we are gathering information about the student, such as the student’s knowledge or retention.

An assessment is a tool that allows us to look at the data and the student together and determine what is working or not. In this way, assessments can give you a broader picture of the overall system and any areas of potential weakness.

Successful assessment systems commonly include:

    • Just-in-Time/Short-Cycles Assessments
    • Universal Screening/Benchmarking
    • Skills Analysis/Diagnostic
    • Progress Monitoring
    • Interim Assessments
    • Summative Assessments

It is important to note that while testing helps assess a student, it is not the only way students can, or should, be assessed. Testing is an invaluable part of a larger assessment strategy.

(Video) Measurement, Assessment, and Evaluation

Example of Assessment in Education

Assessments can take many forms. While we may commonly think of tests, they are far from the only way to assess a student.

Some examples of assessment in education include:

      • Screeners
      • Classroom observation
      • Interviews
      • Diagnostic tests
      • Concept maps
      • Prompted journaling

Learning is not linear. Multi-dimensional growth is measurable if appropriate assessments are taking place.

Understanding Standards and Skills: What Are the Types of Measurement in Assessment?

Measurement gives us the data needed for assessment and evaluation.

Comprehensive assessment systems provide structure to education. A complete system will have different types of assessments and be administered at various times to give an overall view of student progress.

Once we know what to measure, our next question becomes, what are the assessment tools to measure learning?

Assessments fall under two general categories: standards and/or skills.

Standards Assessment

Standards are the specific, hierarchical learning goals expected of students in a particular grade, grade range, or area of study.

We can imagine standards as the road students are driving along on their academic journey. The student starts at Point A and will eventually reach Point B.

Regardless of the pace or the path they take, our goal is that they arrive at the destination.

If we want to know whether or not a student is meeting the learning objectives, we can offer a standards assessment.

The Benefits of Standards Assessments

Not every student learns the same way or at the same pace. A standards assessment doesn’t judge a student based on how they got to the destination, just that they arrived.

Standards assessments can give an objective overview of classroom success.

Skills Assessment

Skills are the abilities a student needs to use their knowledge effectively and readily.

Let’s consider the road analogy. If standards are the road then skills are the foundation under the road.

If there are too many missing or rough pieces, navigating the road can be treacherous.

In order to determine what type of foundation the student is driving on, we need to conduct a skills assessment.

The Benefits of Skills Assessments

Assessing the methods and skills students use to reach the destination can reveal a lot. Some students may have a smooth road and an easy journey. Other students may face potholes and rough terrain.

If a student is facing too many obstacles, learning will suffer.

(Video) Measurement, Assessment, and Evaluation

A skills assessment can give insight into the student’s journey and help develop strategies to improve the learning process and meet the needs of each student.

Types of Standards Assessments

Most basic assessment systems include a type of standards assessment.

State testing is a type of standards test that reveals how much of what the student learned was retained. Students take the test in the spring on everything they should have learned during the school year.

Standards Assessments Include:

  • Just-in-Time/Short Cycle Assessments (Formative)
  • Interim Assessments
  • Summative Assessments

Just-in-Time/Short Cycle Assessments

Short cycle assessments are common in the classroom. Students across all grades and subjects are familiar with this type of assessment, even if they are unfamiliar with the name.

These formative assessments confirm that specific learning has taken place and provide data to inform future instruction.

Just-in-time assessments are considered formative and take place throughout the learning process.

Examples of short cycle assessments include:

    • Spelling tests
    • Pop quizzes
    • End-of-chapter tests
    • Class discussion
    • Comprehension checks

Interim Assessments

Interim assessments measure students’ proficiency of standards. These tests are given periodically and can help determine the efficacy of instruction.

Examples of interim assessments include:

    • Standards-aligned common assessments
    • Curriculum vendor-provided interims
    • District-created interims

Summative Assessments

At the end of the unit, course, or year, grades need to be assigned to the student. Summative assessments are useful for evaluating and certifying learning.

The student can demonstrate their mastery of the material and have their knowledge measured and graded.

Examples of summative assessments include:

    • Standards-aligned common assessments
    • State standards assessments
    • Curriculum vendor-provided summatives
    • District-created summatives
    • Classroom Summatives

Types of Skills Assessments

Skills assessments can look like ordinary teaching tools, such as spelling tests or pop quizzes. Most, if not all, classrooms included some type of skill assessment activity long before regular testing was a part of the school year.

Skills Assessments Include:

  • Universal Screening/Benchmarking
  • Skills Analysis/Diagnostic
  • Progress Monitoring

Universal Screening/Benchmarking

We often need a starting point to determine how best to guide a student.

Universal screening or benchmarking helps identify which students may need additional services or assistance or are at risk of falling behind.

Examples of universal screening/benchmarking include FastBridge’s combined suite of reading, math, and social-emotional behavior assessments.

Skills Analysis/Diagnostic

A skills analysis can be used as a reporting component of the universal screening or as a follow-up for students who are flagged during the benchmark test.

(Video) Measurement, Assessment and Evaluation of Learning

Skills analysis and diagnostic testing can help pinpoint specific learning needs or deficits.

Examples of skills analysis and diagnostic assessments include FastBridge’s Screening to Intervention report.

Progress Monitoring

For students receiving Tier 2 or Tier 3 interventions, progress monitoring is needed to measure the effectiveness of the intervention.

Progress monitoring allows you to evaluate progress toward learning based on the student’s rate of improvement. You can determine if the student benefits from intervention by measuring their advancement in specific skills.

We often need a starting point to determine how best to guide a student.

Examples of progress monitoring include FastBridge’s FAST Projection™ line.

Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment in Education: The Purpose of Measuring and Assessing Student Progress (4)

The Importance of Assessment, Evaluation, Measurement, and Testing

Measurement and assessment are keys to making sure we are serving students well. Without them, we have no way of knowing what we are doing or why.

Using assessments and measurements to gauge the success of …

  • Students
  • Instruction
  • School and district initiatives

… can help us continue to improve the learning process.

Standards exist to measure a student’s proficiency in their grade level. We can use assessments to determine whether a student meets the standard for their grade or subject.

A skills assessment helps identify skills the student might be missing and gives us a closer look at their educational needs.

We can use these tools as part of a comprehensive assessment system to provide students with a stronger foundation.

Purpose of Measurement and Assessment

Once we know what to measure, our next question becomes, what are the assessment tools to measure learning?

Assessments give us answers to questions like:

    • What do students know?
    • What do students not know yet?
    • Where are students struggling?
    • Why are students struggling?
    • What should I teach next?
    • What adjustments can I make to future lessons?
    • Which students need academic intervention?
    • Which interventions match the needs of the student?
    • Do students’ retained learning meet district and state standards?
    • Are there gaps in the curriculum between expectations and assessment?

When we complete the assessments and measure the outcomes, we can create an effective and efficient plan to improve the rate of success among our students.

Are We Testing Too Much?

Not all tests are created equal. Each test is going to have a different purpose and give us specific information. And remember, while all tests are assessments, not all assessments are tests.

We all hear the terms over and over: measurement, assessment, evaluation. It can be overwhelming. It feels that we must ask: Are we testing too much?

The short answer is: no.

We want to enable students to learn and ensure they meet state standards. To do that, we need assessments to show us where we are succeeding and where we can evaluate and improve.

(Video) Purpose of Assessments: The Why?

It is not feasible to know if a student can learn and retain information without assessing their skills and abilities

Assessments also help us identify problems before they become insurmountable. It is in the best interest of the student to be assessed, so we can recognize how to give them the support they need.

Illuminate Education: Turning Measurement and Assessment Data of the Whole Child into Actionable Insights

You can’t create the best learning plan for your students with only a couple of pieces of data just like you can’t see the whole picture if you’re only holding one piece of the puzzle.

If you already have a system, we want to help you reinforce what is in place. Illuminate Education can help you strengthen your assessment plan and give you the rest of the pieces to the puzzle.

Illuminate provides comprehensive assessment, MTSS collaboration and management, and real-time dashboard tools for data-driven educators. We provide streamlined solutions for data-driven teachers and administrators, like you.

Illuminate Education can partner with you to reach outstanding new levels of student performance. We empower teachers with data to serve the whole child, not just one piece.

With our tools, you can:

  • Visualize each student’s progress
  • Determine the right instructional or intervention strategy; and
  • Take the best next action, moment-by-moment

No more guessing or doing what you’ve always done. We give you a road map to success. Reach out to learn more.


Illuminate Education equips educators to take a data-driven approach to serving the whole child. By combining comprehensive assessment and MTSS management and collaboration tools, the Illuminate Solution enables educators to accurately assess learning, identify needs, align whole child supports, drive system-level improvements, and equitably accelerate growth for every learner.

Ready to discover your one-stop shop for your district’s educational needs?Let’stalk.

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