List of formal & informal assessment tools & methods

Assessment tools and methods help teachers gauge the development and progress of their students. Assessment methods encompass the means by which a teacher wishes to assess students. Tools are the instruments for measurement for each method. Formal methods and tools include standardised tests and age-related developmental milestones. Informal methods and tools include use of flash cards and anecdotal records.


Tests are a method of assessing a student's overall comprehension in a subject. Tests can be both formal and informal. Standardised tests, such as state assessment program tests, are formal tools for measuring student progress. Standardised tests use specific question types to gauge critical thinking and problem solving skills. Informal testing tools include use of flash cards, pop quizzes and oral question and answer.


Observation is a method for assessing students' social and behavioural progress. Teachers must plan ahead to use observation and have a purpose for doing so. Observations can be measured against standard developmental milestone charts and rating scales and they can be made in response to formal questionnaires and checklists designed to measure development. Teachers can use event sampling and time sampling to understand student behaviour exhibited during particular events or different times of the day. Anecdotal records of observations can also be kept to assess social and behavioural development.


Grading is an assessment tool that truly needs no introduction. Teachers use grading as a method to score students' performance on individual projects. Grades, like tests, reflect how well a student has learnt a subject and where she continues to struggle in the learning process.


Portfolios offer teachers a review of each student's progress over the course of a year, or, as in continuous comprehensive evaluation, over the course of one's educational training. Portfolios can be comprised of all of a student's work or the highlights and lowlights of a student's body of work. In reviewing the history of the student's progress, the teacher is able to assess the student's continuous comprehensive development in a subject, course or program.

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About the Author

Kristin Jennifer began writing professionally in 2010, with her work appearing on eHow. She has five years of experience working as an immigration specialist in Houston and New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in economics from Barnard College.