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Assessment Definitions

Achievement Test - A standardized test used to measure acquired knowledge or skills in a specific subject area (such as mathematics or reading.)

Aggregate – All students in a district, school, or grade level.

Anchor Paper – A student work sample identified for the purpose of exemplifying a specific level or score on a criterion based rubric. Typically, one two anchor papers are selected for each rubric level.

Authentic Assessment – A strategy for assessment in which students are asked to perform engaging, real world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills.

Benchmark Assessment – A form of assessment most often developed within a school district and administered to students at particular intervals of the school year. The assessments serve several purposes: providing evaluative information about the impact of a curriculum or a program, offering instructional information that helps diagnose student strengths and weaknesses, and informing and guiding teachers’ instructional decisions.

CBM (Curriculum Based Measures) and CBA (Curriculum Based Assessment) – An assessment method used to determine the extent to which students are progressing in basic academic areas such as math, reading, writing, and spelling.

Cohort – A group of students with a common defining characteristic, most often age group.

Common Assessment – An assessment typically created collaboratively by a team of teachers responsible for the same grade or subject area and administered across student groups or classes.

Constructed Response – A problem or question item that requires the respondent to compose an answer rather than select from list of choices. Essays, short answers, projects/presentations are all examples of a constructed response.

Criterion Referenced – An assessment where an individual's performance is compared to a specific learning objective or performance standard and not to the performance of other students.

Curriculum-Embedded – Assessment that occurs simultaneously with learning in the classroom setting. If properly designed, students should not be able to tell whether they are being taught or assessed.

Diagnostic Assessment- Assessment that provides the teacher with an understanding of the prior knowledge and skills of students, as well as the strengths and specific learning needs of an individual or groups of students in relation to the standards that will be taught.

Formative Assessment– An assessment (can be non-graded) of student learning that a teacher uses to inform instruction. Formative assessment is often described as “assessment for learning.”

Performance-Based Assessment – An alternative to traditional testing that requires a student to create an answer or product that demonstrates his or her understanding of the content.

Portfolio Assessment – A purposeful collection of student work that demonstrates the student’s learning, development, and achievement over time. Often the portfolio includes written student reflections and rubrics used to “score” work.

Progress Monitoring – The National Center for Student Progress Monitoring defines progress monitoring as, “a scientifically based practice that is used to assess students’ academic performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction.”

Rubric – A scoring tool that lists criteria against which a student work sample is compared.

Standardized Test – Tests that are designed, administered, and scored in a consistent manner. MCAS and DIBELS are considered examples of standardized tests.

Stanine – Short for “Standard Nine,” stanine refers to a method of scaling scores along a nine point (often nationally normed) standard scale. A stanine 5 is considered average nationally.

Summative Assessment – Graded assessment of student learning that demonstrates whether or not a student has met expectations. Summative assessment is often described as “assessment of learning.”

Universal Screening – A quick, simple assessment of specific skills used for early identification of students who might be struggling. Universal screenings can be administered one or more times annually.