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Purpose of Assessment?

bulletDiagnose knowledge and skills
bulletDiagnose application of skills
bulletDiagnose strengths, needs, and patterns of change
bulletProvide feedback on self-assessment
bulletHelp regulate own learning
bulletProvide feedback on goal setting
bulletOffer a basis for instructional placement
bulletGive a basis for promotion or graduation
bulletInform and guide instruction
bulletCommunicate learning expectations
bulletMotivate, focus attention and effort
bulletProvide practice
bulletGrade performance
bulletCompare students
bulletprovide data for site-based management and district or state decision making
bulletGauge program effectiveness

Berkowitz's, From Indicators of Quantity to Measures of Effectiveness (1994)


Assessment.  Measures "where we are in relation to where we should be?"  Many consider it the same as Formative Evaluation.

Evaluation.  Determines "how well did we do what we set out to do?"  Evaluation is tied to stated goals and objectives.  Many equate this to summative evaluation. 

Note:  Many use the terms assessment and evaluation the same, referring to each as being formative or summative.

Formative Evaluation.  "Where we are in relation to where we should be?" Done along the way to assess progress and improvement and areas of difficulty. Timelines, checkpoints, conferences, self-assessment, and peer-assessment are often used.  This type of assessment can be done informally and need not use traditional instruments such as quizzes and tests.

Summative Evaluation.  "How well did we do what we set out to do?"  Done at the end of a unit to determine if the objectives were achieved.  This type of assessment tends to be formal and use traditional instruments such as tests and quizzes.

Authentic Assessment.  Not a precise term.  Best described by outlining key characteristics of the assessment:  

bulletOpen-ended to allow many different approaches and products
bulletBased on important concepts
bulletConsistent with local and state guidelines
bulletBased on real-life experiences
bulletTakes into account developmental level and prior knowledge
bulletDemands high level thinking
bulletStudents synthesize and use learning to create new ideas
bulletStudents work through the process of building understanding
bulletNurtures complex thinking and reflection by students on own learning
bulletAllows students access to tools and resources during assessment

In authentic assessment tools such as portfolios and performances, students help decide what is important. Assessment becomes a learning experience in itself. Progress as well as final achievements is valued. Collaboration and flexible use of time may be permitted. Students are assessed against a criterion, not a norm.

Performance Assessment.  The learner performs a behavior to be measured in a "real-world" context.  It requires authenticity in stimuli, task complexity, locus of control, motivation, spontaneity, resources, conditions, criteria, standards, and consequences. The learner demonstrates the desired behavior in a real-life context and the locus of control is with the student.

Benefits of Authentic Assessment:

bulletIncrease motivation
bulletIncrease thinking skills and reflection through things such as
bulletLearning logs where students keep their notes and reflections in two columns on a sheet
bulletProgress logs - success in finding appropriate information
bulletEncapsulation (demonstration of understanding from day’s lesson)
bulletResearch log with goals daily
bulletReflection to peer
bulletVisualization of important points on topic
bulletProcess log with reflection points
bulletThoughtful research products

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Assessment and the Library Media Specialist

Classroom teachers assess the product, the content, and the process (both formatively and summatively). Library media specialists can be involved in formative assessment of product and process.  The library media specialist probably does not do summative evaluation on his/her own but may help teacher develop or provide input.

To develop an evaluation or assessment plan, answer the following questions:

bulletWhat do we want students to know and be able to do?
bulletWhat will count as acceptable performance?  Models of acceptable performances are useful to students
bulletHow can we ensure expert judgments?  Rubrics are one technique.
bulletHow can we provide feedback?
bulletPeer comments
bulletOpportunities for revision

Assessment Strategies: Process (information seeking, groupwork, independent learning, work habits)

bulletPerformance task list
bulletOral questions
bulletThink aloud

Content (subject knowledge)

bulletSelect response, i.e. objective test
bulletConstructed response
bulletVisual representation


bulletPerformance task list

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The Library Media Specialist and Assessment of Process

bulletStudent focus
bulletUse of time (pacing)
bulletUse of sources (and order of use)
bulletUse of Library Media Center resources

Written summaries by students, creation of a timeline, use of a flowchart, and individual conferences are effective, informal assessments of process.  Each of these can be used to identify problems, recommend strategies, and assess use of sources. 

Personal contacts with students through questionnaires, interviews, or unobtrusive observations by teacher or peers can be used to evaluate progress, pinpoint frustrations, redirect activities, provide nurturing, or self-assess. They can be used as diagnostic or formal assessment.

Portfolios offer a great deal of potential to engage students because they direct their own work, set learning goals, select works to highlight skills, and writing the introduction and reflective pieces. Typically, they are evaluated with rubrics incorporating descriptive phrases rather than evaluative comments. 

When assessing portfolios, consider:

bulletFramework of portfolio
bulletClarity of goals
bulletAchievement of goals
bulletStudents’ assessments of their own progress
bulletDepth of thought in reflective statements
bulletComparison of content of each piece to standard of excellence
bulletOverall appearance

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Performance assessment checklists are tools used to evaluate different components of work. They may be a generic list for a format (e.g., poster, multimedia product) or tailored to specific content of task. These lists use numbers to help in grading. 

They may be created and/or used by teachers or the students themselves. One of the goals of many teachers is to help students learn to self-assess. These performance assessment lists can incorporate content, process, and product skills and work habits. From the examples, you can see different descriptions of quality for different levels. For older students you can indicate relative importance of different items with the number of points assigned to each. 

For these to be most successful, it is useful to provide examples of excellent performance (models) to allow students to compare their work with peers' work.


Rubrics are categories of descriptive statements for exhibitions, performances, portfolios. They indicate a continuum of quality with narrative for each level on the scale. This narrative description of performance helps all view criteria the same way, from students to peers to the teacher.

If well developed, different teachers can view the same project and grade it the same way using the rubric. They are good for self-assessment and, ideally, should be available when students start work on a project. Rubrics should not be numerically average. They provide more holistic grading than performance assessment lists. 

Rubrics may be weighted depending on the importance of different aspects. Some aspects may count more for in specific assignments if the same rubric is used repeatedly for different assignments.

Creating Effective Rubrics

bulletLearning Target. Clearly stated, focuses on student learning objective rather than teacher activity, meaningful and important target
bulletSkill Assessed.  Clearly presented, can you "see" how students would demonstrate the skill in the task itself?
bulletPerformance Task - Clarity. Could students tell exactly what they are supposed to do and how the final product should be done?
bulletPerformance Task - Importance.  Is the purpose of the task clear to the student?
bulletPerformance Task - Appropriateness.
bulletEssay - is the response truly up to the student?
bulletRestricted response - is it fairly narrow and basically just one correct answer?
bulletExtended response - is actual performance required or is it just quiz?
bullet Rubric - Clarity.  Would students understand how they are to be evaluated? Are the criteria observable and clearly described?
bulletRubric.  Appropriateness: does it work with type of task and learning target? Does it allow for several levels of performance? Does it assess skills as stated?

Click HERE for Dr. Schroeder's Rubric for Assessing Rubrics

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Information Power
Information Literacy
Research Process
Evaluating Information
Lesson Design
Staff Development


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